Australia. Hot weather, beaches, cool beer, adventure, hot surfer dudes and dudettes… Seems like paradise doesn’t it? And it is really nice. I went and didn’t want to come back!
But it’s important to remember that it’s not completely perfect. For a start, just about every animal and insect out there can kill you. Then there is the space mile upon mile of unrelenting desert and unforgiving bush.
I didn’t realise that I had seen the original until I put this remake on. It was the running over of the kangaroo that made it all flood back. The 1978 version had always freaked me out a bit when I was young. Not that I can remember much more than the fact that there was a load of dead animals and a spear gun.
Peter (James Caviezel) and Carla (Claudia Karvan) are having a bit of marriage trouble. In an attempt to make things right Peter plans a camping/surfing trip for them. Carla hates all that outdoors stuff, but Peter books it anyway. You can see why they don’t get on too well.
After driving for hours and negotiating a maze of wooded lanes, they finally find themselves at (what they think is) their destination – an isolated beach and scrub area, perfect for camping.
Unfortunately though, things don’t work out. And when their camping buddies don’t turn up, some freaky things start to happen.
Something’s just not right about this little area. The animals act strangely and freaky noises and happenings put even more pressure on Peter and Carla’s relationship.
She doesn’t want to be there, and he does. And when they realise just how isolated (and lost) they are, things go from bad to worse.
Watching this made me realise two things. Firstly, that the original Long Weekend could easily have been an inspiration for The Blair Witch Project. And secondly, that I would never go camping in the middle of nowhere in Australia.
And when it comes to remakes, and particularly those which don’t change much of the original plot, most people want to hear that the modern equivalent isn’t as good. In this case though, I was pretty impressed.
In what turns out to essentially be a two person show, Long Weekend is tense and gripping.
The freaky lingering shots of dying ants and decaying animals which made the original film disturbing, are still there.
Caviezel and Karvan are excellent and play a completely believable ‘couple who hate each other’. They’re bitter and uncomfortable with each other. Just as hostile as the territory that surrounds them.
Their disregard for nature with their killing of wildlife and littering makes it clear that they have got a whole lot of bad karma surrounding them. But what will happen to the couple? Will they kill each other? Or will a poisonous insect do it? Or maybe there’s a redneck murderer hiding out there in the woods? Or a combination of all of it?
But just as I was nearing the edge of my seat, something a little unexpected happened. The film came to an abrupt end.
I don’t remember if the original was the same. Either way it did leave me a bit disappointed.
The ending isn’t silly, or disappointing as such. It just seems that loads of time is spent inflating the ‘tension balloon’ for it to suddenly pop. Or maybe not even pop, but get pricked and deflate really fast making that rasping noise as it goes. It did leave me feeling a bit deflated.
It was still an enjoyable experience on the whole. And if nothing else will serve as an education for any students preparing for a year out travelling!
Additional film information: Long Weekend (2008)