Long Weekend

Long Weekend ★★★★½

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Long Weekend is my second slice of Ozploitation for this June marathon and while it is very different in terms of tone and quality from Dark Age, it does share a couple of the same ecological themes.

Whilst in Dark Age the message is rather hammered home through the presence of a giant crocodile and some sagely Aboriginal guides, Long Weekend is rather more subtle and even oblique with its message and plot. It was also another Australian box office flop, barely registering a ripple Down Under and once again, like the aforementioned film, getting noticed more or less on occasional TV showings alone. These days it is probably best known as the film that inspired the 2008 remake starring Jim Caviezel.

Its basic plot, of a bickering married couple (with pet dog in tow) opting for a weekend camping out in the Bush close to a beautiful but eerily deserted beach only to start wondering what the hell is going on when nature starts behaving very strangely indeed, has its obvious influences in The Birds and quite possibly even Picnic At Hanging Rock. In fact, I do wonder if the recent British horror film Eden Lake might owe a slight nod to it.

There are no rampaging chavs here, however. In fact, when I actually sat down and thought about it, very little ACTUALLY happens in Long Weekend. The odd strange event and one or two rather unexplainable occurrences aside, this is a film that, like Picnic At Hanging Rock, is all about atmosphere and making you think that you are seeing and hearing things that may or may not be there. Or making the main couple see and hear them.

Its strange and almost steadfastly non-committal story is utterly riveting from the moment that they arrive at wherever John Hargreaves seems to think they are. I was less interested, actually, in the basic 'nature fights back' story as Hargreaves and Briony Behets flick cigarette butts everywhere and basically make a mess of the joint. I was more interested in the way the film plays out its story by holding back on everything and showing you very little - including the twist near the end which is revealed only by virtue of the sun rising.

But there are also one or two almost supernatural occurrences that really do have you scratching your head - in a good way. It's said by so many people that films like this work so much better when you don't 'show the monster' and never has that fact been more apparent than here. The ending, meanwhile, is perhaps not exactly unpredictable in terms of what happens, but how it happens is an entirely different matter.

The central relationship is fascinating, too. In films like this, bickering couples are usually brought together by adversity but in this case their relationship actually deteriorates as the pressure surrounding them brings buried animosity and secrets to the surface. I think it's the mark of just how superb this film is that out of its ecological mystery thriller trappings it actually also manages to fashion one of the more believable and complex relationship dramas that I have seen for quite a while.

Not absolutely all of it works - one or two of the relationship revelations are slightly hysterically done and one or two bits of dialogue didn't quite convince. Plus, you might be left wanting more in terms of exactly what is going on when it comes to the more bizarre elements of the story. But this is, without question, somewhat of an absolutely cracking film, aided by two superbly pitched and convincing central performances.

Writer Everett De Roche wasn't happy with the finished film but, once again proving that us writers often don't know shit, he would try and rectify what he perceived to be problems with this original by penning the widely panned 2008 remake. He is somewhat of a dab hand at the ecology, wildlife and general outdoors thriller - Razorback, the excellent Link and Roadgames are just three of the other films he has written. For director Colin Eggleston, this was easily the pinnacle of his career.

That could be said for pretty much everyone involved, mind you. Long Weekend is terrific and easily one of the most surprisingly excellent films that I have seen for ages. YouTube the sucker today.

🇵🇱 Steve G liked these reviews