Long Weekend

tn_longweekendPeter (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.

mp_longweekendBut 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.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 29th, 2010 at 10:41 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

32 Responses to “Long Weekend”

  1. I’ve had crows peck at my head before, it gets your heart pounding.

    Vern, there’s an awesome story somewhere in there. I grew up on a rural farm and I’ve gotten into quite a few staring matches with crows, they’ve yelled at me and I’ve yelled back. They’re clever little buggers and they’re full of mischief and harassment.

    But I’ve never had a murder of crows pecking on my head and I can’t even imagine the context. Were you half dead roadkill from being hit by a drunk driver late at night on a rural road? Did you raise one from a hatchling like in the Shawshank Redemption? Were you squatting in a giant old factory? Are you The Crow? Please tell.

    like when Darth Vader throws the emperor at the end of Star Wars 3 (SPOILER)

    Star Wars 6. Turn in your nerd film badge, hang your head in shame, and leave the room.

  2. Any chance you’ll review the remake with Jim Caviezel, Vern? I’d like to hear from a trust source whether or not its worth checking out.

  3. BR: It wasn’t a murder of crows, but I’ve had it happen a couple times. I’m walking down a sidewalk not really paying attention so I don’t realize the crow that’s squawking is squawking at me for being too close to its nest. Then it swoops down at my head. No damage, but it spooks me.

    Somebody told me in Australia there are places where it’s smart to wear a hat with fake eyes on the back so hawks don’t attack the back of your head. I wonder if that’s true?

    Dan: Chances are strong.

  4. So…any swans or mosquitos in this movie?

  5. I have seen one of Eggleston’s other movies, INNOCENT PREY, and it’s kind of a hoot. It stars P.J. Soles as a woman who is apparently a psycho magnet. At the beginning of the movie, she finds out her husband likes to cut up hookers with a straight razor, so he spends the rest of the movie chopping cops heads off to get to her. So she’s like fuck this and moves to Australia, where she lives in an apartment building run by a weirdo who’s got the place wired up with cameras so he can watch her sleep. Then the husband shows up and they have a little psycho-off, and then I think the ending implies that her new lover is a wacko, too. It’s just one damn thing after another with this movie. It’s like a De Palma movie without any of the sophistication. If you can track down a VHS copy (or feel like purchasing it from my upcoming DVD-R store on ioffer.com, hint hint) I recommend it.

  6. for real life Antipodean bird horror, read up on the car eating, sheep hunting New Zealand Kea.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kea

    In my opinion, this is virgin horror movie territory: the Kea horror movie. Think carnivorous, silent, sneaky, super-smart large alpine parrots hunting you in packs.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any New Zealand directors who have directed horror movies and showcased their native New Zealand in films and found worldwide success with that. Hmmm…

  7. Yes, but when WILL someone adapt THE LORAX as a gritty supernatural rape-revenge pic?

  8. goddamn vern you make me crack the fuck up a minimum of once per review and that is why you remain my favorite reviewer of all time. keep up the great work.

  9. Do Peter and Marcia get closer by the end of the film? Maybe nature was trying to push them back together.

  10. What really gets me about Long Weekend is that not only does nature kill these people, it actually covers its tracks by framing other people for the murders. It’s like nature is afraid that it might get sent to prison.

  11. “Mother Nature was arrested on two counts of second-degree homicide today in connection with the brutal eaglings of two campers. The embattled embodiment of the earth’s climate and environment stressed her innocence, claiming that the eagle acted alone. Father Time could not be reached for comment.”

  12. I’ve been dive-bombed by crows on numerous occasions as well, exactly as Vern describes. Must be a Pacific Northwestern crow thing.

  13. I am pretty sure I remember seeing something about this one in NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD. I will have to check it out.

    Speaking of crow attacks, when I lived in Seattle I was attacked by two crows. The had a nest near my house and were really nasty and aggressive. They would attack and terrorize my poor old fat cat I had to the point he was afraid to go outside. So one day when my rotund cat had finally worked up the courage to venture back into the yard to lay out and sun his massive belly he was greeted by the viscous black feathered daemons from above who chased him under my car parked in the drive way. The crows circled the car squawking and occasionally drive attacking him when he would try to sneak out from under the car. Well I was tired of watching my old harmless cat get bullied so I grab two tennis balls and went into the front yard to defend my fat friend. On my first throw I blasted one of the crows and knocked it right out of the air. Then the second crow turned it’s rage on me and tried to peck and claw at my head. Soon the crow I had tagged with the tennis ball joined the attack. I was forced to grab a broom handle and wield it like a samurai sword to defend myself. It was not fun, and my actions in no way discouraged their aggressive behavior.

  14. The artist formerly known as AU_Armageddon

    October 29th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Magpies not Hawks Vern. But it’s true, eyes on back of your head or hat prevents the swoop. They often hit you with their body and it feels like someone has just jumped you with a baseball bat. They sometimes catch you with their beaks or claws and will rip a good hole as well. They fiercely repeat and you can get swooped 3-5 times easily by just the one bird walking past it’s tree. One of the more fun things you can do in the Spring is pack a lunch (or popcorn) and find a good spot where there are several nests over a common walkway and park yourself opposite. Watching everyone from children through to grandmothers flailing their arms above their head is funnier than it sounds, but every now and then you get a guy in a suit and the hilarity when he hits the ground prone and then runs like he’s under fire in Iraq.

    Good review ta, I enjoyed the remake as well, though not as good and not bringing anything new to party particularly worth seeing if you already watched the first.

  15. Gwai Lo:

    Maybe it IS a Pacific Northwest thing. The crows in New England aren’t so aggressive, just little cowardly thugs.

    I hooked up with this First Nation chick on a trip to Vancouver once, 15 minutes off the airplane, in front of that big green stone statue of all their gods in a boat in the airport. She was there as an interpreter/ guide. So our courtship consisted of me asking a lot of dumb questions about Haida mythology.

    And the crow is a huge deal in their mythology, some sort of trickster demigod. So maybe Pacific Northwest crows are a breed apart of extra intelligence/ aggressiveness.

  16. Dan

    The remake is a bit redundant – even though its been a long time since I saw the original film, the Jim Caviezel version feels very similar, albeit beautifully filmed. Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan are just as obnoxious and the same stuff happens to them. The final shot is a classic though.

  17. Having never been to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve not been attacked by crows. However, I did once find myself in a small group walking through a skua nesting site in Antarctica, and let me tell you those suckers are mean! (Skua are like large, aggressive, brown seagulls.) They would fly up a few feet above us, then turn into the wind–this allowed them to effectively hover directly above you until they decided to dive at your head. We tried to explain that we didn’t mean to stumble upon their nesting grounds, but they were having none of it. They were like a street gang in an ’80s movie! We made a beeline for the edge of their territory and luckily escaped with all of our eyes intact. Here is a photo I found that is giving me PTSD-type flashbacks:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Skua_antarctica_uscg04.jpg

    On another note, I second BR Baraka’s idea for a kea horror movie. Those things land on the backs of sheep in the middle of the night and tear off strips of flesh! Take a look:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=552x2YFjsw0

    Cheers,
    Mike V.

  18. Yeah, you’re right. The crow is a big deal for First Nations here, and their big brother the raven especially. In fact I bet some of the birds I see that I think are crows are actually ravens, because some of these suckers are huge, almost seagull sized. I’ve seen crows do some vicious shit to other crows as well, I have literally seen an angry murder of crows turn on one of their own and tear the poor bird to pieces. Shit, there’s a big pile of crow feathers under this big maple tree on my block right now that I’ve walked past every day for the last week, I bet that was the scene of a crow homicide.

  19. “Peter hits a kangaroo in his car and just keeps going”
    I first thought you meant the kangaroo was in his car when he hit and threw it out without stopping, like he gave it a life, only to find out it was Kangaroo version of THE HITCHER and wanted to kill him.

  20. ^gave it a lift

  21. charles’s story & this review have countered the understanding of the bird & cat world I recently developed by reading Jonathan Franzen’s FREEDOM. Cognitive dissonance everywhere.

    Book’s waaaaaay overrated by the way. I hated it. The effusive reviews & the TIME magazine cover will always be a mystery to me. Avoid or wait for paperback.

    That Long Weekend poster is badass. I’m stealing it for a multimedia project.

  22. caruso_stalker217

    October 29th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    The crows in Oregon seem like friendly enough fellows. Must be a Washington thing.

  23. I’m glad you got around to this one because it’s one of my favourites.

    I’ve never heard of hawks swooping people, but you do need to watch out for Australian magpies, which, like crows, are very intelligent, territorial and prone to swooping. I’ve heard the thing about wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella with eyes painted on it, but I’ve never seen anyone do it. Probably something they say to tourists to make them wear silly hats.

    By the way, that Australian sea mammal is a dugong, a close relative of the manatee. They don’t live anywhere around where this film is set, and neither do Tasmanian devils for that matter, but I like to think that the animals are drawn from all around the country by their assholishness.

  24. Yeah those fucking magpies in Australia are feral. They’re worse in NZ. I think they used them as those giant eagles in Lord of the Rings, so they wouldn’t have to pay for special effects.

    I used to get attacked by this one magpie every morning on the way to the bus, and rest assured – I did not run over any Kangaroos or chop down random trees. I did discover though, that magpies don’t like getting hit with tennis rackets.

  25. The original Paul

    October 30th, 2010 at 4:23 am

    If we’re on the subject of random bird attacks, I once witnessed an excellent bit of real-life hubris when a particularly nasty little boy of about ten or eleven years decided to annoy the swans at a local park and lake. Seeing a full-grown male swan rip this asshole’s face and arms to shreds was pretty horrifying, but you gotta say that the kid deserved it. Ever since then I’ve stayed well away from swans.

    Good review though, Vern. I might put this one on my “worth checking out” list. At number six-hundred-and-thirty or so (I’m not dismissing the film here, I’m just making the point that I have so, so many films I need to check out!)

  26. Yeah, Paul, with a couple more years of hard work and commitment, you could reach my level and whittle that list down to only 478 or so films.

    There’s only a small cluster of badass movies I’ve allowed myself to watch multiple times this century (Shanghai Knights, the Rambos, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, The Incredibles, Paths of Glory, Robocop, Face//Off, and Die Hard). I find myself treating them like a stash of comfort food, good for the occasional indulgence. Almost everything else is one time hit it & quit it. I can’t think of any horror genre films (Predator was sort of a horror film, but. . .) I’ll try to make time to rewatch.

  27. Yeah, swans are truly nasty bastards, aren’t they? I swear they’re what Velociraptors evolved into.

    I’ve seen Massachusetts crows gang up on hawks. But around here it’s the wild turkeys you really wanna watch out for. A flock of them actually attacked a relative of mine’s car. With him in it. He said it truly was like being in a horror movie–the turkeys hopped up on the hood and pecked at the windshield, and he could hear their beaks going PANG PANG WHANG on the doors.

    I got divebombed by a hawk a few times up in Canada once (while strolling through a wheat field, in the same general area where they filmed Days Of Heaven, actually). My companions were on horseback a few hundred feet away and had a grand old time watching me run in a zig-zag pattern through the field, howling and waving my hands in the air, while a hawk swooped down repeatedly at my head. Their laughter echoed across the plains of Alberta….

  28. man the weird reverence Aussies have for nature still annoys me/creeps me out. only an Australian would make a movie like this where nature is the hero

  29. I can confirm the dangerous nature of Pacific Northwest crows. When I was growing up, our driveway was very long and lined with trees on each side. Crows liked to nest in the big old pines that were there. One spring, an injured crow nested itself near the base of one of the trees. My dad had been feeding it, noting that every time he went out there, there was a large group of crows “watching over” the injured one. The injured crow would hop around the base of the tree and into the driveway. A few days later, my sister pulled into the driveway and hit the injured crow. When she got out of her car, a small murder of crows swarmed at her, and made her run screaming into the house. They didn’t leave the area until my dad came out the next day and cleaned up the body. I guess they trusted him. My sister is deadly afraid of birds to begin with, but she cannot stand to hear crows or see large numbers of them. Gives her the shakes.

  30. Geese can be nasty birds too. My neighbor was raising a goose one year to have as Christmas dinner, and I don’t know if the goose figured out what was up or what, but the day before Christmas it hardcore attacked him. Broke his knee, tore his leg up bad, he ended up spending Christmas in the hospital.

  31. I bet that goose dinner tasted REAL good though!
    mmmmmm vengeance!

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