Long Weekend

Long Weekend ★★★½

Crazy, but effective, Aussie eco-horror in which a couple head off for a weekend away at a remote beach locale in the hope of rekindling their failing marriage, only to have Mother Nature meet out karmic revenge on the pair for their repeated transgressions against the environment.

The absurd premise is tempered with black humour and an unsettling, eerie atmosphere, partially created by a menacing soundscape of frequent indistinct wailing, and piercing animal or bird screams on the soundtrack whenever one of the humans despoils nature.
For the most part, the couple remain fairly oblivious to the angry environment, and even when they are polluting or scarring the ecosystem, it's only out of sheer thoughtlessness, never deliberate. Yet in ever scene they are doing things like driving over small animals, throwing litter away in the bush, hacking at trees for no reason, pouring insecticide about, smashing an eagle's egg, and pointlessly blasting at the sea with a rifle. All the while nature grows more and more agitated, and soon it seems that every single blade of grass is out to get them. Even harmless possums get vicious.

The environmentalist message of the film is clear, but is never addressed outright (though we occasionally catch snippets of news reports about nuclear testing in the South Pacific). Instead it concentrates on nature at war with the couple - who are also at war with each other. It works largely thanks to the feeling of unease that pervades, and the gradual ratcheting up of tension. The film even somehow manages to give the great outdoors a claustrophobic ambiance.
It's an unusual film, very stripped back, and like other superior man vs nature films, like The Birds, it successfully matches macabre delight with ecological disquiet.

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