Saturday, May 18, 2013

Black Rock

Another week, another independent horror/thriller playing in theater #5 at Fresh Pond Apple Cinemas, just like last week. Not that I'm complaining; I like that someone is getting these movies out there, and now that Apple seems to be pretty much independent, maybe it's something the new owners like doing and they'll stick with it so enough for it to get some traction. There were only four of us in the 7:45pm show Friday night, so I don't know how how quickly it's building. It's the kind of thing that could use a little bootstrapping, I think - make sure there's a preview for Black Rock in front of Aftershock and one for American Mary in front of Black Rock, and maybe this starts building to something.

Of course, the issue might be finding 35mm previews to attach; I've got no idea how many of those studios send out these days, or whether multiplexes just have to settle for what they get attached to prints. Heck, for that matter, I'm mildly curious about getting previews for digital projection is like - do studios ship them on hard drives, or do they each have an exhibitors-only server where previews are available for download? Do links to previews clutter a theater manager's email like so much spam? Or is it mostly stuff that's "attached" to the DCPs, or at least stored on the same hard drive.

However it works, I figure it couldn't hurt to make indie/foreign genre stuff part of Apple Cinemas' identity and really build it as something you're not getting at any of the fancier multiplexes. After all, with the FEI places nearby and other screens just a little way down the Red Line, it couldn't hurt to have an identity beyond the place that plays Bollywood movies.

Black Rock

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 17 May 2013 in Apple Cinemas #5 (first-run, 35mm)

When building a survival-in-the-wild thriller, most writers start with something like Black Rock and then add stuff - elaborate kills, extra plot twists, maybe some sort of weird backdrop. That's the usual path, but the makers of this movie come from an indie/minimalist background, so what they come up with is simple but quirky and kind of messy like their comedies and dramas. It's an odd combination of pro-grade talent and do-it-yourself technique.

Things start with friends Sarah (Kate Bosworth) and Louise (Lake Bell) heading to the small Maine town where they grew up for a weekend on an island where they used to camp as kids. Lou is surprised to see Abby (Katie Aselton) waiting for them; though the three used to be tight, there's a reason Abby and Lou haven't spoken in years. Sarah convinces them to stick around, and while seeing a group of hunters on the island is a bit of a surprise, Derek (Jay Paulson) is the kid brother of one of their old classmates and his buddies Henry (Will Bouvier) and Alex (Anslem Richardson) seem okay, if standoffish. That won't last.

Aselton directs and also supplied the story that husband Mark Duplass fleshed out into a screenplay, and that story is not complicated at all: What the audience can suss out about Sarah, Louise, and Abby in their first scene together is pretty much all they need to know, and the dynamic with the guys is even simpler. It's just enough to get things rolling and give the cast some room to work, but there's a difference between simple and oversimplified that Aselton and company generally stay on the right side of.

Full review on eFilmCritic.

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