31 Days of Horror, Day 19
When you wrong Mother Nature, don’t be surprised if she claps back. That’s the central conceit of Colin Eggleston’s 1978 Aussie horror classic. In Long Weekend, a married couple whose relationship is on the outs attempts to salvage what’s left of their marriage with a trip to a remote beach. Or, rather, that’s the husband’s idea of therapy. His wife would rather chill at a posh hotel. Clearly, their differing ideas of what makes for a good time is just one example of why they aren’t working.
The other: she cheated on him, got pregnant during the affair and aborted the baby at her husband’s request. Ouch.
Much like its sister movie, 1971’s Wake in Fright, in which a very urban Australian gets a crash course in “bogan” (that’s Australian for “redneck”) culture and slowly goes mad, Long Weekend subjects its urban characters to the horrors of rural Australia. Except, instead of hard-drinking locals, the natives are eagles, ants, snakes and sea cows.
And these two don’t play nice with nature. They run down a kangaroo, chop down trees, leave cigarette ashes everywhere and wield guns like a boy learning how to pee standing up. Soon, they begin to pay for their wrongdoing. Animals attack, a sea cow’s mournful wail keeps them up at night and even their weapons seem to be turning against them.
While I appreciated the psychological aspects of the film — it’s never explicitly stated whether something supernatural is controlling the animals or if the protagonists are imagining things — parts of the movie got too heavy-handed. At one point, the wife smashes an eagle’s egg against a tree, and a comparison is made to abortion.
Also, without supporting characters or dialogue to carry later parts of the film, the narrative runs out of steam. You stop caring what happens to these characters long before their inevitable fates are revealed.
As a companion piece to Wake in Fright, it’s an important movie, but Long Weekend just reminded me how much better the former movie is.
At least it was more entertaining than The Babysitter. But, then, I suppose that’s setting a really low bar.