Minka Kelly Isn’t The Only One Losing It After Lazy, Repetitive Thriller


  • Minka Kelly’s acting in Blackwater Lane fails to engage viewers with only three repetitive expressions.
  • The script spells out every detail, lacking subtlety and originality in an oversaturated plot full of clichés.
  • Blackwater Lane‘s lack of trust in the audience is evident in its repetitive flashbacks and overly-explanatory dialogue, making for a frustrating viewing experience.

It takes a lot for me to watch a film and immediately think it’s one of the best films I have ever seen. It might be even more of a feat, however, for a film to simultaneously repulse and bore me so much that, within all the muck released every year, I am pushed to think that this may indeed be one of the worst pieces of cinema that I have laid eyes on. The latter was the case with Jeff Celentano’s drab thriller Blackwater Lane.

Blackwater Lane (2024)


Jeff Celentano

Release Date

June 21, 2024


Elizabeth Fowler
, B.A. Paris


Dermot Mulroney
, Maggie Grace
, Minka Kelly
, Natalie Simpson
, Edward Baker-Duly
, Pandora Clifford
, Kris Johnson
, Henry William Galpin

In the first ten minutes of what will be a slog of an hour and 48-minute runtime, Blackwater Lane introduces us to uninteresting protagonist Cass, who is soullessly played by Minka Kelly. Surrounding Cass are her good-for-nothing husband, Matthew (Dermot Mulroney), and her seemingly supportive friend Rachel (Maggie Grace), who continue to be as grating as they are in the early minutes. The plot then kicks off when the laissez-faire Cass sees a woman alone in a car on a stormy night and proceeds to drive home without helping her.

Blackwater Lane Main Cast

Character They Play

Minka Kelly


Maggie Grace


Dermot Mulroney


Natalie Simpson

DC Lawson

Edward Baker-Duly

Dr. Deakins

Kris Johnson

Alex Walters

Judah Cousin


Minka Kelly Is Unwatchable

The actress offers a limited range of expression

Minka Kelly’s performance in Blackwater Lane is just about as confounding as her character, who shows no concern for the woman (Jane Walters) she sees at the side of the road, and who later turns out to have been murdered. If I’m being generous, she brings about three expressions to the table: A generic scared face, a confused glance, and a neutral stare. For the latter emotion, Celentano likely intends to create enticing ambiguity or an illuminating blankness, but accomplishes neither. Instead, we’re left with a vagueness that disconnects us from the lead.


The Friday Night Lights Character Minka Kelly Originally Auditioned For

Minka Kelly is known for playing Lyla Garrity on the hit series Friday Night Lights, yet she initially auditioned for a very different role.

The way Cass is written does no favors for Kelly in the role. Less than 10 minutes in, Blackwater Lane launches us into the unstable psyche of a character we just met and have no insight into. Though part of the plot involves the character being gaslit, a huge chunk of the tension lies in the fact that Cass has a terrible memory. And it’s not in the interesting, unreliable narrator type of way. She just cannot remember stuff, a trait the film comes back to whenever it’s convenient.

Blackwater Lane Doesn’t Trust Its Audience

The script spells out everything for us

Blackwater Lane Maggie Grace as Rachel with head tilted

Though our protagonist has a habitual issue with forgetting events, she does remember one thing — the night she drove by Jane Walters. Blackwater Lane intends to show Cass’ trauma by bringing viewers back to the event, but it does so eight times. I know this number because I started taking a tally after the film flashed back to it a second time within the first 20 minutes. I was both irritated and amused each time the same shot would appear again, as the film lazily made its way through its scenes.

Blackwater Lane constantly dumbs things down for its audience.

The car scene is not the only way Blackwater Lane constantly dumbs things down for us. Every time there might be a moment of ambiguity, mystery, or intrigue — must-haves for a good thriller movie — the Elizabeth Fowler-penned script (adapted from the book by B.A. Harris) assures we understand by having the characters speak the plot out loud. Coupled with expressionless delivery, these moments of dialogue are comically bad.

Blackwater Lane Subverts Nothing & Reverts To Every Trope Imaginable

The film is derivative of much better films and TV shows

Blackwater Lane Dermot Mulroney against library stack of books, looking concerned

If the lazy scripting and oversaturation of identical scenes were not enough, Blackwater Lane also lacks any sense of novelty. The film borrows from the kind of unseen terrors in Invisible Man or the mental health and marital fractures displayed in the series Behind Her Eyes, but offers nothing new. Instead, it presents a distilled version of these existing tropes, building to a characteristically over-explicated conclusion. To make it even more unsubtle, Blackwater Lane reverts to the age-old “dark and stormy night” opening as a major jumping-off point, a harbinger of doom for the character and audience.

Blackwater Lane is now playing in theaters and is available on demand and digital. The film is rated PG-13 for violent content, thematic elements involving suicide, sexuality and terror.

Blackwater Lane (2024) - Poster - Minka Kelly, Maggie Grace & Dermot

Minka Kelly, Dermot Mulroney and Maggie Grace star in Blackwater Lane, a supernatural thriller based on the wildly successful New York Times bestselling book by B.A. Paris. After witnessing a tragedy on a dangerous country road, Cass is visited by a ghostly presence and begins to question her sanity. As these otherworldly experiences intensify, Cass is driven closer to the brink until she begins to assemble the pieces of a horrific plot against her.

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