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By Scott Knopf | January 25, 2012

Katie Aselton is the embodiment of Do-It-Yourself success. Working with the Duplass brothers on projects like The Puffy Chair, she helped create mumblecore, a film genre built around low budgets, improvisation, and minimalism. Her work on The League has launched her into the mainstream but her success as a two-time director is just as impressive. 2010’s The Freebie is an under-watched gem. And now she’s back with Black Rock, an indie horror film that was picked up for distribution immediately following its worldwide premiere.

Aselton co-stars with Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns) and Lake Bell (How to Make it in America) as three childhood friends who take a trip to a small island from their youth in an attempt to mend their relationships. While on the island, they meet three ex-soldiers who’ve recently been dishonorably discharged for events that took place overseas. It turns out that they used to know each other so the guys are invited to stay for a dinner on the beach. But after a night of alcohol-induced flirting, things get out of hand and the girls realize the danger they’re in. Trapped on an island (with no cell phone reception, of course) with professionally trained killers, the three friends will have to bond together to make it home alive.

Black Rock is an intense thriller that does a lot of things right. Not a lot of time is wasted getting to the action. The violence is brutal and the suspense is gripping. The three actresses all deliver strong performances (it’s always great to see Kate Bosworth in a movie worth re-watching) and the script is tightly written.

There’s a lot to love about Black Rock. That being said, it has its problems, namely its lead antagonist. Jay Paulson (Happy Town) is over-the-top in his role as “deranged killer.” His f****d up haircut and bugged out eyes try their hardest to pass him off as frightening but he can’t quite pull it off. But even with its shortcomings, you’re going to have fun watching this movie.

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