When Nature Turns Bad

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An Australian psychological horror classic, Long Weekend was made in 1978 and is another example (along with Wake in Fright) of putting an Australian landscape to great—if sinister—use.

With the good fortune of a long weekend upon them, married couple Peter and Marcia (John Hargreaves and Briony Behets) take the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a relaxing weekend camping along the coast, in the hope of repairing their troubled marriage. But as they continuously bicker with one another, and each of them shows a complete lack of regard for nature, strange things begin to happen involving the local wildlife, and it seems as though nature may be exacting revenge for their disrespect.

The film’s strength is in the mood and style. It is unsettling and has a great atmosphere to it, and the backstory and relationship at the heart of the film separates Long Weekend from your average ‘man-vs.-nature’ films. There is a deep complexity to Peter and Marcia’s relationship, we see that they care deeply for one another, but that a rift has formed that may not be so simple to fix, and that something lurks below the surface of their marriage, a past incident that neither of them have recovered from, which the actors convey extremely well, and we as the audience learn more and more about as the film progresses.

It tackles some very important and heavy issues in an interesting and—even by today’s standards—innovative way. Its use of imagery as a means of conveying its message is also impressive considering its genre.

Screenwriter Everett De Roche handles the release of information to the audience expertly, and director Colin Eggleston translates the script to the screen with the mood ominous and the tone haunting.

Long Weekend was recently remade with Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan in the lead roles. I say check out the original instead. As a general rule of thumb, I say check out the original of everything instead.

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