On this blog, I tend to stick to current releases, specifically things that came out the same year I wrote them since this entire blog came to be out of a need for me to try and see every film when it came out. This has meant that films from last year that I missed don’t get talked about and I haven’t done any classic films. Basically, it’s been nothing but new films, old editorials and Drag Race reviews and two of those things aren’t being done anymore SO from now on I’m going to try and do one review of an older film a week. Maybe it’ll be something you’ve heard of, maybe you’ll have no idea what the hell I’m talking about (a common response) but I’m trying something here so let’s see how it goes. To start with let’s go back to 1978 and talk about a classic bit of Australian cinema, Long Weekend.
Long Weekend follows Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets), a married couple with a marriage that can best be described as “Should’ve been divorced by now” who decide to try and fix their marriage by going on a camping trip. On the way, they do the typical tourist things, like run over a kangaroo and throw lit cigarettes into the dry bushland that causes a fire. The more time they spend out in nature, the more harm they keep doing to it by hurting animals, cutting down trees for no reason or just generally littering. The more harm they do to nature, the more that Nature wants to fight back against them and slowly but surely the local flora and fauna begin to sent Peter and Marcia crazy and make the two of them pay for the damage they’ve done to the local bushland.
This is another in the natural horror genre that I talked about previously after watching Crawl but this one does something a tiny bit different. In films like Crawl, Cujo or The Birds you actively root for the humans to make it out alive. They’ve done nothing wrong, they’re just like us and we can easily identify with them. Long Weekend won’t have any of that bullshit, it explicitly says that the humans in this story are the bad guys and they deserve everything that’s coming to them and thus we slowly grow to hate them more and more and want nothing more than for the animals to get them. Instead of just having a hoard of animals physically assault them, which would be viscerally satisfying considering how foul these people are, the film makes it a lot more psychological with the animals breaking the humans down until there’s nothing left for either of them and it’s great to watch. They basically made an environmental rape-revenge film, letting the humans violate nature until nature decides to fight back.
Visually the film is a treat, aided by a landscape which helps to create some powerful imagery that makes it almost feel alien. Scenes where the characters are driving at night through rows of burnt-out trees are surreal enough that you genuinely don’t know if they’re just lost or if the landscape around them is changing to keep them in one place. Then there are the great POV shots that appear to be from the animals watching the two leads, waiting for their moment to take them down. Then there’s the gliding long takes where we’ll linger with one of our leads as they run around this landscape and it’s beautiful and so smooth, you almost forget that some poor camera operator was trying to do this while running around on sand at night. The version I watched was on Kanopy and was probably using an old print, I hope that someone has gone in and done an HD remaster of this film because it’s such a visual treat that it deserves it.
There are some mild problems with the film, there’s an entire plotline about abortion that feels like it was just shoved in because it was a big part of the news at the time. I mean, it might be there because, at the time, it would’ve made Marcia seem more monstrous but times have changed and that doesn’t work as well anymore. There are a few shots where they’re firing a gun and you can tell it’s not even firing blanks so it looks a bit silly and a few other things that are really trivial and feel like they’re there because it’s a 1978 film that we’re looking at from 2019 and they can mostly be forgiven because the rest of the film is so good.
The depressing thing is that this film still resonates; its message still needs to be heard. The entire film is a battle cry, a warning shot that when we mess with nature, nature is more than capable of wiping us off the face of the earth. A warning that we didn’t take since here we are 40 years later and we’re still violently harming nature and pretending to be shocked when it fights back. While this movie takes this idea to the extreme, using animals to specifically target two people, the truth is that we are Peter and Marcia. We are the annoying loudmouth humans who don’t care about the land we’re on, willingly destroy it for short term benefits and because of that, the planets decided to boil us alive… depressing how this film still works so well.
Long Weekend is a must-watch horror film that doesn’t need to use gore or violence to terrify you. It breaks down the harsh truth about how humans treat the planet and encourages us to watch and enjoy as a pair of bad people are mentally destroyed. It’s a bit of a hard watch at times, but only because you end up seeing a piece of yourself in the very people the film invites you to hate.