CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: Trip to Katie Aselton’s ‘Black Rock’ Lacks Purpose
CHICAGO – I really admire the girl power approach to the thriller genre in Katie Aselton’s surprising genre effort, “Black Rock,” but the admirable effort doesn’t change the fact that the movie just doesn’t feel fully fleshed out nor does it play to the strengths of its filmmaker. The what-if scenario that incites the action of “Black Rock” is captivating but Aselton and co-writer/husband Mark Duplass don’t build on that scenario enough to make the venture successful overall. I really wanted to like “Black Rock” given how much I truly think Aselton holds “The League” together and love Duplass but the script needed more work and the direction needed to be tighter. We need more directors as unpredictable as Aselton (after “The Freebie,” NO ONE would have predicted her follow-up would look like this) but just being unpredictable isn’t enough.
Sarah (Kate Bosworth) wants to spend a nice weekend with two of her best friends at an old camping site they used to haunt as younger women but the problems start before they even get on the boat to Black Rock. Sarah’s friends, Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (Katie Aselton), hate each other. Neither was expecting the other one to be there. And they have good reason. Abby slept with Lou’s man. They reluctantly give in to Sarah’s desire to be a threesome and head to Black Rock. It’s not long after they arrive that the trio runs into three guys hunting (Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, and Anselm Richardson). Abby pushes them to hang out with them around the bonfire. Drinks are imbibed, Abby flirts openly, and things get a little tense when she heads off into the woods with one of the gentleman. When the hunter gets too aggressive, Abby grabs a rock and acts in self-defense. Good luck telling the bloodied veteran’s friends and former troop members who say he saved their lives that it was self-defense.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Black Rock” in our reviews section.|
It’s a great set-up. Abby is clearly acting in self-defense and yet her victim’s friends would understandably be upset and want to act, perhaps even violently. The main problem with “Black Rock” is that Aselton and Duplass instantly turn the guys on Black Rock into totally maniacal villains and send everyone scattered around the island – hunters and hunted. Imagine the tension of the “what do we do” scenario that could have made up the second act of the film. We’re stuck here with a dead body. One of these people killed him. Two of these people want revenge. Instead of the tension rout, Aselton and Duplass go for action and the film suffers because of it.
Photo credit: LD Entertainment