Directed by Katie Aselton
Starring Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth
Playing at Village East
The “Black Rock” end credits start rolling at right around the 75th minute. Usually, that thinness would be a cause for complaint, a sign that something went wrong. But it’s exactly right for Katie Aselton’s thriller, which is practically a feature-length evocation of Thomas Hobbes’ notion of life in nature: “nasty, brutish and short.”
The movie, scripted by Aselton’s husband Mark Duplass (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) follows three friends (Aselton, Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell), who go camping on an ominous island off the coast of Maine. There, they encounter three recently returned Army veterans. A terrible accident mixes with some unchecked rage, and soon enough the ex-soldiers begin hunting down the women, primed to kill.
A survivalist drama set over the course of a day on this bleak, black rock, the movie has no time to goof around. It’s stripped down to a primal essence, exploring the basic question of how the three women can evade men who have been trained to hunt down insurgents. Aselton combines the hide-and-seek chase with images of darkness setting in, fields outlined by evergreens and other reminders of the odds facing these characters.
The script impressively avoids lazy shortcuts or superhuman feats. No one suddenly morphs into a female version of Rambo. The film sets up a conflict, confronts it in mostly convincing fashion and calls it a day before anything gets too out of hand. That’s efficiency for you.