This is just fantastic, just an absolutely brilliant, minimalist horror movie. I actually wound up hunting down the film because of NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD and despite knowing a little about the plot and style from that documentary I was still taken aback by how effective the movie is.
Essentially the movie is about a couple, Peter and Marcia, on a camping trip out in the middle of nowhere in Australia. The couple’s relationship is pretty much in ruins now, just the frayed remains of a miserable existence, and the trip seems to be drawing out all the resentment between them. Whilst Peter and Marcia desperately try to reconnect the landscape around them seems to broil with some unseen rage. In a lot of ways Lars Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST seems to be influenced by this film, but the chief difference between the two is that LONG WEEKEND seems to have a genuine cause and effect between the actions of the couple and the overall hostility.
We are constantly reminded of how destructive a force these two are by how they treat their surroundings. Running over a kangaroo in the first ten minutes, chopping down a tree just for the hell of it, destroying eggs. There’s a real sense of nature in a sense of revulsion about these two’s presence and it’s all represented quite unsubtly by a dead Manatee on the beach, which just rots and festers ominously whilst it’s young call out in the night like lost children.
There’s a real sense of unease to the film and it’s not just because of the mounting external tension, Marcia and Peter are at each other’s throats for the majority of the film and it makes scenes between them absolutely fraught. In terms of depicting how people actually are this is almost like a Ken Loach film in its unabashed realism, but that realism also means that it’s generally unpleasant watching these two slowly rip each other to shreds.
In fact I’d say this was a massively effective horror movie if not for the last twenty minutes which leaves Peter on his own and sort of overplays the mounting dread. This isn’t a particular subtle film but once Peter is literally running away from enraged woodland critters it is hard to keep engaged with the film, which is a shame because it is so fantastic until then.