When a suburban couple go camping for the weekend at a remote beach, they discover that nature isn’t in an accommodating mood.
Australian cinema has often lumped in unfairly with the state of British cinema. Both countries being incapable of producing anything other than kitchen sink dramas and gritty flicks about gangsters in a spot of bovver. Even films such as Muriel’s Wedding will have a dark subtext somewhere. Hell, Animal Kingdom’s tale of a boy discovering his grandma is the head of a crime family sounds ripe for comedy shenanigans. If you haven’t seen it, I assure you, it is not a Will Ferrell vehicle. It’s neither country’s fault; it’s just so often these kinds of films are the ones that manage to sell overseas.
However, for those actually living in the country, or indeed just those willing to take more than a passing interest, will find that Australian film making is bustling with fertile imagination that encompasses rom coms, action movies, tense thrillers and a wealth of genre filmmaking. Dip your toes into Mark Hartley’s documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, for a real crash course in the latter, where comatose patients with psychic abilities rub shoulders with Dame Edna and oversized feral pigs.
Long Weekend is one of those classic horrors from the land down under. Written by Everett De Roche, who would go also go onto pen Patrick, Frog Dreaming (AKA The Quest) and Razorback, the film sees a financially comfortable couple camping out in the woods and coming under attack from the nature that surrounds them: birds of prey, possums, basically anything with tooth and claw. However, don’t confuse our protagonists with wide-eyed innocents of naivety personified. Oh no, that’s a fool’s errand. For it’s Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia’s (Briony Behets) disrespect for the world around them that leads them down the path of eco-terror.
Peter takes potshots at baby ducks, cigarettes are thrown into the bush willy-nilly and Marcia steals an eagle’s egg before crushing it in a fit of fear and rage. If they were a company, their sustainability policy would be missing in action.
And it’s not just Mother Nature they show a lack of respect for. Having proven to be uncomfortable in each other’s presence at the start of Long Weekend, as their holiday drags out Peter and Marcia come at each other with poisoned words and actions. Even as their camping trip comes crashing down around them in a flurry of fur and feathers, they are still able to take time out to pull arguments out of each other like ticks in dog flesh. In short, these are not very likeable people. The performances by Hargreaves and Behets ensure that you’re never on their side for too long.
And that’s what will probably be uncomfortable for some viewers: Who are you supposed to root for when both parties are horrific examples of human beings? But it’s never about rooting for them. Long Weekend, it could be argued, isn’t even about survival against the odds. For Peter and Marcia, this is a baptism of fire. Whilst it’s undeniable they are being tortured and maligned, their way out is simple to the outsider. Apologize, make good with nature. And that for me is where Long Weekend is successful. The frustration you will feel as these two oversized carbon footprints fail to heed the warnings in front of them.
Although filmed over 30 years ago, Long Weekend stands the test of time. Throw an elaborate GPS into Peter’s collection of overpriced camping gear and this could be a relevant piece of modern horror. In fact, they even tried to remake it back in 2008 to critical and financial deafening silence. However, that ill thought out remake was down to poor production decisions more than anything else. No, the original Long Weekend is true Aussie classic and a fine example of eco-terror. Throw this into a double bill with the similar themed Day of the Animals and you’ve got yourself a treat.
- High-Definition 1080p Transfer Supervised by Synapse Films
- Re-mastered DTS HD-MA 5.1 Surround Soundtrack
- Audio Commentary from Producer Richard Brennan and Cinematographer Vincent Monton
- Motion Still Gallery Featuring an Audio Interview with Actor John Hargreaves
- Original Theatrical Trailer