Dear Hollywood: War Veterans Aren’t Here to Kill You. (Guest Column)

You might not remember it, and I only barely did, but a while back, the trailer hit for an indie-ish sci-fi film called Black Rock, directed by Katie Aselton of The League and co-written by Mark Duplass. I sort of pegged it as not my cup of tea and forgot about it, but some of the veterans that saw it… well, they seemed pissed. Alex Horton – a mutual friend through Matt Ufford – asked if he could take a crack at explaining why. He wrote a guest column more on the topic of veteran portrayals in movies in general than this small movie specifically, and it’s a perspective that, as a wussy civilian, I can’t really offer you myself. But considering the way we sort of outsource all our fighting to the all-volunteer force and forget about it, it’s a perspective worth trying to understand, and thus one I thought it was worth sharing.

War Veterans Hunt Chicks: The Movie

An unlikable trio of New England women set out to camp on an island and hash out white girl problems when they encounter three dishonorably discharged war veterans in the middle of a hunt. One guy gets too frisky, a girl bashes his head in, and the two remaining men stalk the three women as they loudly yell about boyfriend-stealing in the woods.

That’s the premise of Black Rock, a film directed by Katie Aselton and co-written with her husband Mark Duplass, both stars of The League on FX. Aselton, Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell star as the women. Almost every review tags the film as a foxy Deliverance, but it’s more Friday the 13th meets “The Most Dangerous Game” meets Travis Bickle shooting johns in the dick.

This really isn’t a review of Black Rock, as that burden has been carried enough at the point (“Lackluster and surprisingly generic!” raves The AV Club). Rather, this is a look at how veterans are typified onscreen. When it comes to portrayals, soldiers in war movies are case studies in archetypes—the tough guy, the soft nerdy one, the Brooklynite, Barry Pepper. But they’re generally normal, and in a good film, probably complex.