Black Rock (2012) – a little feminist analysis for you guys

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I spent a better part of my time in school analyzing movies and in this instance, I’m going to go ahead and do it now. And yeah, there might be spoilers. Then again, this movie is kind of predictable. Please to enjoy.

Black Rock, a movie written and directed by a woman – god damn yes! – might just be a movie. It might just be Deliverance starring women as the victims instead of men. It definitely might be and if it is, fine. That’s fine. Some movies are that and not all movies have to be deep and film-y and chock full of metaphors and symbolism. But for this review? We’re going to pretend that it is deep and film-y and chock full of metaphors and symbolism.

The story is about three women who, deep down, are best friends but have some rocky history get together to go camping for a few days. Once they get there, they happen across three guys – one of whom went to the same high school (I think) as the girls. Drinks are had and one of the women starts flirting with said guy. They sneak out into the woods to fool around. Meanwhile, the other two guys tell the other two girls about how they were all in the military together.

The “couple” in the woods are making out but the woman, Abby, decides she doesn’t want to take it any further and says “NO.” And then the guy shoves her down and gets ready to rape her. After he punches her twice, he says “You wanna have fun? You wanna get fucked tonight?!” To save herself from being raped, she grabs a rock and hits him in the head. Oops, he dies.

Everyone else back at the campsite hears Abby yell and they run to her. The women are shaken and trying to calm Abby down, meanwhile the guys realize their friend is dead and start saying shit like “Get your gun,” and then getting said gun and pointing it at the women. The women run away.

And so begins the hunt.

Everyone sees this as just being another Deliverance. Some reviews from Rotten Tomatoes have this to say:

– “It feels amateurish, as though it was made up as they went along. The violence – because that’s what most of the action consists of – feels phony.”

– “The concept is there, but a movie like this needs a much more polished execution that “Black Rock” gets.”

– “A soundtrack of churning rock songs by the Kills is as close as this misfire gets to authentic grrrl power, borrowed as it is”

The way I see it is that Katie Aselton sought to make a movie that looked at gender as well as victim blame and being a survivor. I saw a lot of this movie as being about the sexual dynamic between men and women and rape culture.

I hate that for some people, the violence isn’t real enough. That it isn’t polished enough. That it just isn’t really grrrl power. (I really don’t think Kathleen Hanna would be a fan of such a nonsense comment.)

FUCK. THAT. NOISE. This movie is simple and honest. The men – or rather, soldiers – represent the weird focus on hyper-masculinity (which I think is also a major point of this movie. Guys also have a right to be irritated by gender dynamics. I think Aselton aims to bring that up but of course, people are just like “Why you gotta hate men so much?! Why can’t you be naked all the time?! Why can’t you love men without question and then be naked around us?!”) and the women act as survivors of sexual offenses. It isn’t meant to be pretty or polished. It’s meant to just be. Is there a way to make rape sound better or worse? Not really. It’s fucked up and it is what it is.

Right after Abby accidentally kills the guy, the women try to reason with the now incensed men:

Sarah: Listen, what happened to Henry was a terrible –
Derek: Shut up.
Sarah: – terrible fuckin’ mistake, okay? It was an accident. Abby is sorry. She is sorry. But please, understand that what she did was protecting herself. Can you get that? She thought that he was going to rape her. Can you understand that? Can you get that?
Derek: Here’s what I get. Your fucking slut friend lures my buddy up into the woods, flirting with him all night, smashes his fuckin’ head in with a rock. That’s what I understand.

Aw, look at all that victim blame. Unfortunately, shit like that actually happens.

I made the mistake of checking out the IMDB message boards. Here’s what I found:

Should have premiered on Lifetime
It is right up that network’s alley.

1. Men portrayed as despicable – Check
2. Women fight back against despicable men – Check
3. Cast is made up of C-list, not very attractive (therefore relatable to target audience) women – Check

[God forbid a television network aimed toward women make a few movies about how women can overcome terrible situations involving the men in their lives. It also makes Drop Dead Diva and Army Wives and broadcasts Frasier and Unsolved Mysteries. And really? Commenting on the attractiveness of the stars as well as the “target audience”?]

dat body heat scene!
Complain about the flick as much as you want… You’re lying to yourself if you to see them make-out.

[Yeah brah, after they got out of the frigid water they had to swim in to escape their assailants, I was like “Please kiss! Oh, yeah, take your clothes off and press your icy blue skin against each other.”]

The Rape Sequence Made Me Hard
It was fun to watch. Let the guys have some fun.
—> It’s a shame he died raping the ugliest of the bunch. Such is life.

[Can’t.]

Any bush in this?
I sure hope so.

[That’s what you’re hoping to get out of this movie? You know, there’s this thing called porn. I think it has what you’re looking for.]

Anyone that has seen this film, I have a question
How much does lake Bell show? Is it true that it is topless and ass?

[The main interest of everyone going to see the movie. Will someone get naked?!]

I’m not going to say anything about the involuntary reactions that people have to seeing someone in the nude. The body does what it does and that’s that. But I will say something about people actively saying shit about how rape scenes turned them on and actively seeking out a movie whose entire plot hinges on a woman fighting back against her about-to-be rapist to see a little TnA.

It’s shit like this – this unrelenting focus and commentary and entitlement to critique women. To decide their worth and value. To place some sort of price on a woman. To basically say, “Eh, yeah I guess I’d rape her. I mean, I don’t think I’d have sex with her willingly – on her part. But if she was saying ‘no?’ Yeah, I’d probably fuck her.” Has the male gaze worked its way into DNA make-up?

It’s midnight. I don’t know what this review has turned into. This ended up being more of a review of critics/reviewers than a review of the movie. It just rubs me the wrong way when people look at a movie like this – whether it’s meant to be this feminist movie or just a horror/thriller starring women – and have some ass backwards opinions and thoughts and logic.

I don’t know. I liked the movie. Was it the most perfect film ever? No. But the fact that a woman made a movie that starred women and passed The Bechdel test and had something to say? I can get down with that. Oh, and the soundtrack features The Kills! Nice!

**** stars

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