SEPTEMBER 3, 2012
If Long Weekend's nature-based villain was a bit too goofy for you, then you might want to check out Uninhabited, which is pretty much the same goddamn movie except the villain is a ghost instead of some birds or whatever. But that's about the only difference - couple is on isolated holiday, weird things happen, they bicker, find they can't escape... hell, it's even Australian!
OK, to be fair there's another difference - the nature of the couple's relationship is reversed. While Weekend's couple pretty much hated each other at first and came together (well, slightly) as a result of their shared trauma, our heroes here are all lovey-dovey, only for the events to drive a wedge between them. But their characters are so vague and bland, it doesn't really make much of a difference. Perhaps if they began to suspect the other of what was happening, writer/director Bill Bennett could really set his debut apart from the earlier film, but it mostly just serves as an excuse to keep them separated during the final 10 minutes or so, allowing us to reach the conclusion that anyone who has seen even 1/10th of the horror movies reviewed on this site could probably see coming after a half hour or so.
That said, it's not BAD. It's a beautifully shot film; Bennett makes the most out of his island locale, and sets a lot of it during the day so we can enjoy the lush jungle and blinding beaches. The two leads look great on camera, and while there's no real need for the pair of pirates who provide about 10 minutes' worth of intrigue, at least Bennett was smart enough to not dwell on them (and reveal them early enough so we know that they can't possibly be our actual villains).
He's less successful with depicting these people as intelligent, if that was an intention. Every weird thing is given a "rational" explanation (usually by the male), but they're mostly ridiculous - he seems to think some kids are on the island, which makes no sense at all. So after a while I got pretty exasperated listening to them shrug off things like being filmed while they slept, determined not to let their obvious danger ruin their vacation. I can give some leeway for a horror movie, but usually there's a lot going on to distract away from some of the silliness. Here, all we have, really, is their conversation - we should be given unquestionable excuses for them to stay, or the timeframe should have been compressed. They are there for ten days; after 4 or so, haven't you exhausted everything you can do there anyway? Why not go home, or at least somewhere else? But if this all took place in one or two days, it'd be easier to swallow.
The ghost story also wasn't particularly interesting to me, as it involved a vengeful spirit seeking revenge on people who never did her wrong. It's sort of a "now she hates everyone who comes here" deal, without any actual relation to our heroes, who are perfectly decent people. And it takes too long for the film to get to her backstory, as Bennett inexplicably tries to make us think that it's a pair of drunken pirates who clearly had no quarrel with our heroes until the male got in their face and started yelling at them in a language they didn't understand. Worse, the story of her getting revenge against the people who actually harmed her sounds a lot more exciting and satisfying than this - as a result it feels like a shoddy sequel than an original film, like Halloween: Resurrection where Michael has finished killing his family and now he's just going after random kids in his house for some reason.
But, as always, I've seen worse. Again, it's a great looking film, and even if I saw the end coming (even without having seen the DVD cover, which goes all out and SHOWS the damn thing), it's admirably grim. Just wish it had a little more personality and interesting characters so I would be able to remember a damn thing about it in a week or so.
What say you?