Peter (John Hargreaves from DEATHCHEATERS) and Marcia (Briony Behets) are a couple who are really pissed off at each other when they decide to go camping on a beach out in Middle of Nowhere, Australia. There have been some serious betrayals and traumas that they’re still dealing with and spending the 3-day weekend together is supposed to maybe help, but only seems to be exacerbating things. You know these two aren’t the best for each other when Peter is introduced watching Marcia through a rifle scope. He also likes to fake at hitting her when she has her back turned to him. This guy might be kind of an asshole, I’m thinking.
But they shouldn’t be worrying about each other, they should be worrying about Mother Nature. They disrespect nature in a few ways: Peter hits a kangaroo in his car and just keeps going, he axes a tree for no reason, he litters a little bit, he likes to fire off his gun all the time and scare the birds, he runs over a crab, Marcia gets pissed and breaks an eagle egg she found, and I wouldn’t be surprised if nature was also a little put off by the tight shorts that Peter always wears. So nature disrespects them back: they hear weird howls and cries in the night, ants eat their lunch meat, ducks and spiders attack their car, trees drop branches on them, a weird Australian sea mammal keeps showing up to give them the heebie jeebies/willie jillies. Shit, even mold gets in on the action when their frozen meat spoils way faster than it ought to.
I think my favorite part is when the eagle attacks Peter right after he was joking about using its egg to make an omelette. It doesn’t hurt him too bad but Jesus, who the fuck wants to be clawed and bit by an eagle? I’ve had crows peck at my head before, it gets your heart pounding. Maybe it’s different in Australia, but even with the eagle as our proud national symbol we Americans in general try to prevent and avoid eagle attacks.
Peter is from the suburbs but sees himself as this guy who’s at home with the great outdoors. With his thousands of dollars worth of camping equipment, his guns and crossbow, he thinks he can conquer nature. But he’s not really a very natural person. He likes surfing and camping but he doesn’t respect the forces he’s up against, at least not enough to satisfy said forces.
I’m guessing most of us can relate to this. If nature wanted to, we know nature could fuck us up. What happens in this movie is ridiculous on the surface, but underneath we know it has a truth to it. If you think about it too literally you’re gonna laugh at it, but to me it works on kind of a poetic level. I respect the simplicity. Nobody ever explains it. No scientifical bullshit like THE HAPPENING, no ancient aboriginal curse or anything like that. It just happens. We see what they do, we see what then happens to them, we just make the connection ourselves, and I’m sure the characters do too. We all see it but none of us wants to say it out loud. It would sound too absurd.
Even Peter knows it’s absurd. Right after the eagle attacks him he says, “An eagle attacked me!”
At first he’s trying to show his wife that it’s no big deal, they can handle it, but thing after thing after thing goes wrong. Too many different animals have flipped out on them for it to be a coincidence. Eventually Peter’s dog Cricket even starts growling at him. Must be feeling alot of pressure to come back to the home team. He’s been putting up with this asshole for years and finally he’s like “fuck this shit” and for the other animals it’s probly a thrilling stick-it-to-the-man moment like when Darth Vader throws the emperor at the end of Star Wars 3 (SPOILER) or at least when Ogre becomes an honorary nerd.
The filmatism is top notch. Lots of quiet, atmospheric scenes with sounds that make you feel the nature surrounding you. It’s all very nicely photographed with some good closeups of ants and spiders and crabs, and footage of wild animals including koalas and tasmanian devils. I know what you’re thinking – does the tasmanian devil have sunglasses and a leather jacket like on my tattoo? And is he standing next to Betty Boop? (SPOILER) No he is not. But otherwise you will have few complaints with this movie.
The director, Colin Eggleston, did a few movies I recognize but haven’t seen, like SKY PIRATES and INNOCENT PREY. His last one was the ’87 vampire movie THE WICKED. I’m more familiar with the writer, Everett De Roche, who seems to be the master of Australian horror screenwriting. He did ROAD GAMES, RAZORBACK, LINK… and a bunch of stuff I haven’t seen. But with a track record like that I’m definitely gonna have to watch some of the other ones.
Here’s an interview where De Roche explains what he was going for with this one. “Yes. Nature is supposed to be the hero of the piece. The two characters, Peter and Marcia, are pretty unsympathetic. They invade the bush, and the bush deals with them… LONG WEEKEND is not supposed to be a heavy environmental statement; it is just a very condensed way of saying that nature is capable of looking after itself if man gets too out of line.”
So thank you Al Gore, thank you Forest Taft, thank you Lorax, but the animals and trees can take over from here.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.