Long Weekend DVD Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Showbox Entertainment
Directed by Jamie Blanks
2009, Region 2 (PAL), 88 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Jim Caviezel as Peter
Claudia Karvan as Carla
To enjoy a camping trip in the UK you ideally need a beard, an anorak and the desire to sleep in a puddle. If Long Weekend is to be believed, then an Australian camping trip will require a pair of sunglasses, a surfboard and no fear of crawly things that might invade your nostrils while you sleep.
There are lots of crawly things though, which is why I was completely on side with Carla (Claudia Carvan) when she wanted to go home after the first day. Sun and surf in no way make up for the possibility of a funnel web spider trying to take up residence in your bottom while you make like a bear in the woods.
Long Weekend starts promisingly enough, as Carla and Peter (Jim Caviezel) head off for a trip to a remote beach with great surf. They stop for directions at a typically frosty local bar where the patrons can barely hide their disgust over 'outsiders' wanting to visit their locale. The road they assume is to the beach is only marked by an ancient 'Keep Out' sign that has collapsed into the dirt. Arrows carved into the trees seem to mark the route but when followed, they lead the couple in circles. As night falls they set up camp and vow to press on in the daylight. Morning finds them only a stone's throw from the beach they were looking for.
Long Weekend is a remake of Colin Egglestone’s 1978 film of the same name. It's billed as a 'wilderness horror' and quite rightly so as the antagonist of the movie is mother nature herself. That's really where it falls flat to a certain extent. For the first half if the movie, the viewer is fed clues that suggest there is human involvement in some of the strange phenomena. Eventually it becomes clear that it isn't the case and there’s an attempt to build suspense on "Ooh, that bird is looking at me funny" and " Ahh those ants look a bit sinister crawling around doing their ant things" with a touch of "Eww, that spider's got really hairy legs, I wonder if it'll crawl up her nose?".
And then, as the final 20 minutes approaches, all hell breaks loose as the idyllic setting apparently causes the previously happy couple to lose their minds and almost try to kill each other. Bodies are discovered – presumably of other campers who couldn’t stand the deserted, sun-kissed beach – accidents happen and Peter is terrorized by a dead, beached manatee.
It all sounds preposterous, and it is. The scenery is perfect, the two leads carry the movie with ease but it leaves an overwhelming sense of “What?” and “Why?”. What is this film trying to say? Man has abused nature for too long and now it's striking back? In a coordinated effort between birds, sea-dwelling mammalian zombies and crawly things? Even though the closing scenes are very graphic and powerful, there's just too much left unexplained.
You can keep your Australian Long Weekend. I'm off to grow a beard and sleep in a ditch.
Video and Audio:
Audio is a choice of a 5.1 Surround or 2.0 stereo mix. The surround-track does a decent job of putting the viewer in the midst of the sounds of nature, with constant use of the rears for subtle sounds such as wind or animal noises. The picture is crisp and clear, with great colour saturation that shows off the beauty of Australian scenery.
Long Weekend comes in a feature-packed two-disc presentation. In addition to a director’s commentary on the feature disc, the second disc contains a Director’s Production Diary, Interview Gallery, a deleted scene, ‘Making of’ featurette, ‘Taming the wild’ featurette and a behind the scenes spot focusing on the special effects used in the closing scenes of the movie.
Click cover to purchase.
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