JANUARY 9, 2010
Ironically, my wife decided to watch (most of) Long Weekend with me instead of going to the recycling center as she often does on Saturdays (something I requested as the designated “cardboard” bin was overflowing). So instead of doing her part to save the world, she watched a horror movie about the world getting revenge on two assholes. I was hoping that would scare her into going, but no. She went to yoga while I played Dragon Age (which is awesome but hard - goddamn bot teammates don’t know how to use their good attack spells!). If a koala or some sort of sea creature eats her today, she will regret her decision I am sure.
Anyway, I love the concept for this movie, and most of its execution (more on that later). Sort of like Frogs, it’s about how the world can strike back at annoying humans via its large selection of animals and sea creatures. A possum bites our hero’s finger, a massive spider-web seemingly traps the heroine’s car, and a goddamn eagle bites a presumably innocent truck driver, distracting him and causing him to mow down one of the protagonists (oddly, the 1st of two movies I watched today - the other being Knightriders - that features the film’s main character getting nailed by a giant truck out of nowhere). There’s also a possibly-not-as-dead-as-they-thought dugong (“Sea cow”) whose “corpse” keeps moving closer to their camp.
And of course, they are unhappy, so most of the non-horror scenes concern the two of them bickering over pretty much everything. Usually filmmakers try to keep it even in terms of who is the “bad guy” in their trouble, but its no question that the wife (Briony Behets) is the bigger pain in the ass here. She complains about going, she complains about staying, she snaps at the husband (John Hargreaves) for turning off the radio while she was clearly asleep (“I was LISTENING to that!” she says as she wakes up), and she tries to convince him that their dog is dead so that they can leave without her (it had merely run off).
However, she’s not as much of a villain to the environment as he is. This guy is a real piece of work. Tosses a cigarette into the brush, throws glass bottles into the ocean (and then shoots at them), chops down a tree for no reason (he admits this!), litters... It’s amazing it takes Mother Nature so long to get back at the sod. He’s also a bit of a moron, instigating not only the possum but an obviously angry dog later on.
The only slightly negative aspect is that it gets a bit repetitive/slow. Since there is no actual villain per se, the movie is almost over before they realize that they’re in actual danger. There’s a local guy who gives them the evil eye early on, maybe the screenwriter (Everett De Roche, which wasn’t a surprise as this is, after all, an Australian horror film) should have brought him into the story as a red herring somewhere around the 50 minute mark, just to break up the monotony a bit. It would also work as a sort of reveal for nature; we as an audience know how much trouble locals can be for vacationing city folk, so to see him be relatively harmless in comparison to what the earth could do to them would be kind of cool I think.
The DVD has my favorite execution of a bonus feature ever: an audio interview played over the still gallery. Both things are fine to have, but listening to an audio interview over a still of the actor gets dull. Likewise, no one wants to look at pictures set to a loop of the score. So presto: they combine them, and you get 2x the entertainment value in the same amount of time. There’s also a commentary by the producer and the DP, but it’s very dry (nearly 20% is about using Panaglide/Panavision) and their voices are a bit monotone, so go with caution. There are some good tidbits here and there, of course, but many have been repurposed for the IMDb trivia page anyway.
In closing, I just want to pose a question: does anyone ever have a relaxing vacation in Australia? It seems like going there is merely the world’s most elaborate (and expensive) suicide mission.
What say you?