"Their crime was against nature... and nature found them guilty!" was the tag-line that appeared on the poster for LONG WEEKEND. That might lead you to believe this is simply another nature run amok flick, a la GRIZZY or DAY OF THE ANIMALS. Nothing could be further from the truth. Intensely claustrophobia (an impressive feat given the wide-open setting), LONG WEEKEND is much more psychological than visceral. While its "be friendly to the environment" message is front and center throughout, the film does not stop there. If anything, what it is really concerned with is our casual cruelties, not only towards nature but towards the people we profess to love, and how every single callous action we take brings us closer to our own destruction or, at the very least, assures us of our eventual comeuppance.
Peter and Marcia are on the verge of divorce. Both have secrets, both have been unfaithful, and neither are very willing to put pride aside to begin the reconciliation. The couple set out to an isolated beach on the Australian coast for a weekend away from civilization. Marcia does not hesitate to make her feelings known on the matter. She would rather stay in the city. Along the way, the callous nature of our pair begins to show. Their relationship is verbally and emotionally abusive, each bearing more ill will than they let on. (early on, we see Peter casually targeting his wife through the scope of his new hunting rifle). Peter hits a kangaroo, leaving it to die in the middle of the road. Later on, he will toss a lit cigarette out of his car window, starting a fire by the roadside. Making a quick pit stop for beer, Peter is confused as to why none of the locals know where the beach is. When they finally reach their turnoff, they quickly get lost in the woods.
Once they reach the beach, things start to improve. Peter and Marcia begin to talk, to treat each other like human beings again. But old wounds don't heal so quickly and as their relationship once again deteriorates, the wildlife begins to act strangely. At night, they hear ominous noises. Peter is attacked by an eagle. A large, black shape approaches him as he swims. Later on, Peter shoots and kills a sea cow only to find that it's corpse inches closer to their campsite every night. Peter spots a minibus parked further down the beach, seemingly deserted. When he and Marcia go to check it out the next day, they find it partially submerged in the ocean, a few hundred feet from where Peter first spotted it.
It's a small miracle that John Hargreaves and Briony Behets maintain our sympathies through the films running time. Peter and Marcia are not likeable characters. They bicker and argue over everything, quietly opening up old wounds and not-so-quietly creating new ones. Though their marriage was most definitely over by the time the trip started, by mid-way through the film, its positively disintegrated. That we feel anything for them at all as they meet their eventual fates is a testament to the level of the acting present here.
Though the beach setting of LONG WEEKEND is quite beautiful (and quite beautifully filmed by Eggleston and cinematographer Vincent Monton) it is also undeniably creepy, if not outright terrifying. A lot of credit must go to sound editor Peter Burgess who creates an otherworldly soundscape of ambient noise and animal vocalizations. From the angry, nocturnal howls of Tazmanian devils to the sad, eerie cries of the orphaned sea cow pup, each scene of LONG WEEKEND is a potential nightmare. Though it might not be as flat-out scary as other "lost in nature" flicks like OPEN WATER or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, LONG WEEKEND does manage to work its way slowly under your skin and stay there.