Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review: Long Weekend

Long Weekend
Dir. Jamie Blanks
Year: er...
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 84mins

Just last week I was discussing Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Psycho quite a bit and this week I watched Jamie Blanks' remake of Colin Eggleston's 1978 man versus nature film Long Weekend. It may not be a shot-for-shot remake like Van Sant's film, but it is surely a scene-for-scene remake. I didn't remember all that much of Eggleston's film as I sat down to watch the much, much, much delayed remake, but as I sat there I did recognise almost every single scene as one that I had already seen. Both versions were written by local horror legend Everett de Roche so that may have something to do with it.

The newer version of Long Weekend is not a good movie, but I would argue that neither was the original. That one starred John Hargreaves and Briony Behets as a couple who take a camping vacation down the coast over the long weekend (which one isn't specified) in the hopes of repairing their fractured marriage. He was a brute, she was a shrill terror and together they went about destroying nature at every chance they got. Littering, liberally applying bug spray, destroying bird eggs and killing sea creatures was just some of the fun they got up to before nature took revenge. "Revenge" being, apparently, umm... not having an exit sign on the driving track. Nature is a bit weak in these movies.

Blanks' film is, as I have said, the exact same thing. This time starring Jim Caviezel (yes, Jesus) and Claudia Karvan. Oh the movies I will watch to satiate my Claudia Karvan appetite! I had heard some particularly vicious things about Long Weekend circa 2008/09/10 (seriously, it's been banging about the system for a while now before finally getting a direct-to-DVD release recently), but in all honesty it's just the same movie as the 1978 version, but this time with added blonde highlights (on him, not her).

What Jim Caviezel is doing here is a mystery. I generally don't care when international actors show up in local productions, but this one seems particularly baffling. No explanation is given as to why this American man is married and living in Victoria. That really shouldn't matter, but these two characters are so thoroughly unlikable that it would have been nice to get some sort of character development other than "she's a bitch" and "he's a pig". But, like I said, it was the same in the original, too.

The biggest problem with the film is the fact that the "man versus nature" idea is barely utilised in any exciting manner. There's not much you can do unless you're willing to go full on Evil Dead and have trees uproot themselves and have a fern unfurl to strangle the humans. But, hey, at least that would've been something. The final 20 minutes or so is, just like the original, the best part of the movie and features the only frights worth a damn.

In the end though, there's really nothing separating either film other than improved visuals. The remake is certainly a brighter, more visually compelling film, but they're just as boring as each other. Neither are ever particularly terrible in any particular way, which makes it hard to truly eviscerate, but they're certainly not exactly thrilling. There is one scene in the remake that I can't recall from the original so I'm going to go out on a limb and say Long Weekend '08 is the only film in the history of cinema to feature a scene of a woman masturbating and being interrupted by a dugong. I can't say I've ever seen that before, can you? C-

PS; Long Weekend goes by the title Nature's Grave in the USA.
PPS; Claudia Karvan is divine, but let's not speak of this movie for a while, okay?
PPPS; How great is this poster and retro international VHS cover for the 1978 original? Answer: Very great.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

"Long Weekend '08 is the only film in the history of cinema to feature a scene of a woman masturbating and being interrupted by a dugong."

One of the best sentences written in a review that I've read in a long time.