Long Weekend (2008)
Australia (dir. Jamie Blanks)
Cast: Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan
Synopsis: A vacationing couple in the wilderness learns what happens when they disrespect nature.
Review: Ever see a poster for a movie that just makes you want to see it real bad? That’s how I felt when I first saw the movie poster for the “Long Weekend” remake. It simply looked chilling. You get this great shot of a couple on a beach; they seem to be “together” in the sense that they may be married or dating, but the positioning of their bodies makes it look as though they can’t even stand to walk near one another nevermind spend a weekend together. And the skull shaped rock in the background? Great. It looks neither cheesy nor photoshopped to death. It works great with the neutral colours contrasting alongside the darker greys. Now compare that original poster with the poster the producers decided upon for the DVD cover (below).
In a word… EWW.
So they scrapped a fantastically eerie and simplistically marvelous poster for that!? What the fuck is that?! It looks like a poster for a sequel to “The Rundown” or some other crappy, outdoorsy related action movie. Why bother going from great to blargh? Even the tagline got worse… on the original promo poster it was “Mother Nature has a dark side” and on the DVD cover it was changed to “Don’t mess with Mother Nature”. Yuck. It’s almost as if they tried to suck any remnants of horror out of the original poster by giving the DVD a lackluster cover coupled with a cliqued tagline and a picture that just screams poor production value in order to either make the movie look more like an action thriller or to just scare away any potential viewers. To be honest, I would never judge a book (or a film for that matter) by its cover, but when I see something as fucking ugly as “Nature’s Grave” it makes me want to vomit and wonder what idiot thought that it was a good idea.
Anyways, on to the review! “Long Weekend” is a remake of a relatively obscure Australian horror film by the same name. The story basically focuses on a borderline middle-aged couple trying to revive a smidge of romance in their marriage by embarking on a camping trip on a remote beach in Australia. The couple bickers non-stop; it’s like watching “Revolutionary Road” but instead of the suburbs you’re watching it happen on the beach. Pretty much every stone is overturned during the weekend. The arguing branches from infidelity, to abortions, to spending excessive amounts of cash on useless camping gear, to lack of sex. Some of the best arguments in the film actually revolve around lack of sex, with the husband even going so far as to suggest his wife go “fuck herself” when she complains she has nothing to do. The hilarious thing is she actually takes it to heart, and proceeds to masturbate. Golden!
Besides the arguing, the husband and wife freely take liberties with their surroundings. They pollute, they run over wildlife (mostly accidentally) and they spray insecticide in liberal amounts. While this may not seems too terrible (technically they only pollute once – a plastic bag from their trunk blows into the wind and ends up in the ocean) nature seems to take offense somehow. One of the big problems is that the couple seems to have a knack for inadvertently killing children (animal children). The plastic bag in the ocean strangles a baby sea elephant, the husband runs over a baby kangaroo in his SUV, and the wife hurls an eagle egg at a tree. While it isn’t really their direct fault, nature gets pissed and retaliates in some very unexpected ways. Since it is later revealed that the wife had an abortion, I assume this “couple killing babies” theme is the whole point of the movie (because really, other than nature attacking them, there’s isn’t a point). So really, it’s nature retaliating against the couple for destroying life, essentially for destroying the very essence of nature.
The couple discover a family of campers in the woods before they give up on their long weekend plans (the couple originally saw the family on the trail to the beach in the beginning of the movie). Upon approaching their campsite it’s discovered that the family has fallen victim to a murder-suicide and that for some supernatural reason, their bodies have decomposed so rapidly it’s almost impossible. At this point the couple tries to make a run for it – but things keep holding them back (mainly arguing and the fact that their dog is missing). The wife ends up abandoning her husband, tries to escape, but just winds up driving aimlessly in the forest. The husband is left to fend for himself, and after night has passed, nature ends up offing them in two very gruesome ways.
While some would argue that this movie has an environmentalist/conservationalist sub-plot, I would argue that the movie is more or less a morality tale about respecting life (and thereby respecting the natural world). The couple is more or less punished because they have no connection with the natural world.
The film is shot beautifully. You get to see some stunning scenic panoramas and you can just feel the intense loneliness and isolation permeating from the campsite and beach where the couple are staying. I thought this movie was well done and very enjoyable (I expected no less from the director – he was responsbile for making “Urban Legend” and “Valentine” not suck). This film also has Jim Caviezel, who I think is one of the most underrated actors out there. He made the jocky/jerky role of the husband go beyond a one-dimensional concept and really made his character develop and grow. Love him. As for the actress who played his wife, she was alright, but her general whininess (although understated) became annoying after awhile and even started to border on downright boring. Otherwise, the movie was a great summer film with an ending that you will either love or hate.