Is BLACK ROCK hipster horror?

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black rock

Hi. I’m Christine. I used to be the editor of the most glorious film magazine in the universe, Paracinema. Now I mostly write ambiguous/creepy/gross stories, and get upset whilst watching Parks and Recreation. But I mean, I still watch movies! So here I am, writing about them.

I actually adore this format, as I am a firm believer in the concept of “no bad movies,” and am of the mind that expectations greatly alter ones viewing experience. That being said, of course it’s possible to loathe a movie. Hell, I do it all the time. But I always try to remember that 1) I might not be the right audience, 2) my expectations may have been wonky going in, or 3) what makes a good movie for me (something character based and meditative) isn’t what works for all.

It also may behoove me to mention my strict “no trailers” policy as I’m breaking it to be a part of the wondrous site. Trailers and IMDb sleuthing greatly affects my expectations. (It all started with Dream House, a film I was genuinely excited about. Then the trailer flickered in front of my eyes and I flew into a rage.) I like to go in with as little info as possible. A clean slate, if you will. A blank canvass. An innocent babe… you catch my drift. A specific director or screenwriter is enough to get my ass in a seat. I don’t want a synopsis, and I certainly don’t want a play by play.

That being said, I read way too much about 2012 (or 13)’s Black Rock. Although, somehow I remain mostly in the dark regarding the actual plot. It’s a Mark Duplass (Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Cyrus) screenplay, directed by, and staring his wife, Katie Asleton. I’m a bit of a Duplass brothers fangirl, so I’m already sold. Like I said, butt in seat. But after doing some more digging I find that most folks focus on the cast, Asleton, Kate Bosworth, and Lake Bell, or the rape. Most reviews I’ve happened upon lean towards the negative. I’ve seen it referred to as “hipster horror,” and this only makes me want it more. I also heard Magic, Magic spoken of in similar disparaging tones, and I adore that movie.

Needless to say, I’m chomping at the bit to feast my eyes on this maybe-horror movie directed by a woman that touts three female leads.

Stars: 3.5 (Out of 5.0)

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Anyone referring to Black Rock as a horror film is mostly incorrect. This is a thriller, make no mistake. And the reason I was never particularly spoiled even during all my surfing? Well, not too much happens. It’s kind of unspoilable. Three friends head to their childhood haunt in order to reconnect. It happens to be an island, and the friends in question are all ladies. They meet three dudes and sexual situations, violence, and gender politics ensue.

Black Rock isn’t a labyrinthine journey meant to send the viewer reeling with all its plot twists and vagaries. It’s a straight forward story that happens to be about women, and rape, and hyper-aggressive men. There is certainly some commentary on gender roles going on here, which I happened to enjoy. But it may adhere to too many tropes for some e.g. rape as the catalyst for female empowerment, or women brandishing spears and penetrating their attackers. But take out those admittedly pervasive themes, and you have a tense film with some nasty grappling and scrapping.

And, for the record, it isn’t a hipster movie. Although, who even knows what that word means anymore. If people are using it to describe three 30ish ladies making small talk and overusing “like” while they struggle to find common ground again, then sure, that’s a thing that happened. But when the shit hits the fan, all the middling and indifferent dialogue goes out the window. This could be a case of a film portraying accurately annoying people that exist in real life.

For me, Katie Aselton’s take on a female driven thriller with war veteran antagonists is successful. While it wasn’t a life changing viewing experience, I was impressed with the film’s ability to stay on message and never get too bogged down in the heavy, and sensitive, subject matter it chose to tackle.

Apparently my expectations had been tempered by the combination of my outlandish excitement and the middle of the road reviews. Black Rock ended up being exactly what I expected.

Stars: 3.5 (Out of 5.0)

Final Score: +/- 0

3 responses to “Is BLACK ROCK hipster horror?

  1. This one’s been on my radar for exactly the same reasons. Female directed female-centered horror film? I’m in. I have a feeling I’ll end up on the same line as

  2. So I DID watch it, and yes, I’m on point with you. I just read the dreadful Rex Reed’s review and either we watched different movies, or I just didn’t pay attention to how this film was just all about rape. You know, because um, there wasn’t actually any rape? Anyway, point being, yes. Tight little movie that hovers around some issues without going too deep into them. The girls say ‘like’ because women our age tend to do that. That is that.

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