Campfire Carnage: Gratuitous Violence Ensues in Slash-and-Dice Thriller Black Rock

Katie Aselton’s 'Deliverance'-inspired romp joins the schlock hall of fame

black rock

Lake Bell, Katie Aselton and Kate Bosworth in Black Rock.

Apparently I’m not alone in my growing disgust with movies glorifying the physical and mental abuse of people in general and the butchering of women in particular. I had nightmares following the news of the three kidnapping victims in Cleveland who escaped unspeakable horrors after being imprisoned by a maniac for a decade. But I don’t want to see a movie about it. Nor do I envy anyone who suffers through a slash-and-dice thriller called Black Rock, about three hot babes camping out on a remote island off the Maine coast who are tracked, hunted, raped (and worse) by three demented hunters, veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan. In time, the girls take revenge by reversing the gender roles, giving the brutality a phony feminist slant. Despite the sight of so much cheesecake romping naked through the woods like the girls have never heard of poison ivy, it’s the usual disreputable grindhouse schlock.

Kate Bosworth, an appealing blonde who played Sandra Dee in the dismal Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea and Lois Lane in Superman Returns, plays Sarah, a can-do feminist who ropes two estranged gal pals into a trip to an uninhabited island for some quality time to mend bruised feelings over an old boyfriend. Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (played by the film’s director, Katie Aselton) hold a grudge and scarcely speak. But they hike, open cans over a campfire and bicker about betrayal and jealousy caused when Abby slept with Lou’s ex-fiancé. Before you can say “Deliverance,” they are joined by three hunters who seem friendly enough, until Abby stupidly gets drunk and seduces one of the men, turning his predatory friends horny. Rage and resentment build. Let the violence begin.

Chased with guns, arrows, knives and whatever else turns gym-sculpted girls into candidates for a slab in the morgue, the women fight back using the same Hunger Games mentality as their pursuers. In Deliverance, the villains were inbred swamp cretins. In Black Rock, the psychos are war veterans entrusted with fighting for their country. If there is any point to this carnage, the message is, “Before girls go camping, they should pack their own weapons to protect themselves from demented war heroes.” (Except in this case, the bogus “heroes” were dishonorably discharged, a fact the girls ignore.) By the time 83 unbearable minutes finally end, you can’t tell the difference between good girls and bad guys because they’ve all turned into savages. In the clumsily filmed, blood-soaked finale, it’s a task to find any evidence of survival with a telescope. This shlockfest was written by Mark Duplass, the actor who loaned some ballast to the awful Hump Day and is married to Black Rock star and director Katie Aselton. The writing tanks while the actors try to stay above water, but nobody leaves a trace on the radar.

rreed@observer.com

BLACK ROCK

Written by Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton

Directed by Katie Aselton

Starring Katie Aselton, Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth

Running time: 83 mins.

Rating: 1/4 Stars