Long Weekend (1978)

January 23rd, 2009 by Anna McKibben

Long Weekend (1978)   lwdvd cr1 91x120 reviews horror Director: Colin Eggleston
Writer: Everett De Roche
Release Year: 1978

Mother Nature is working overtime this weekend

Long Weekend (1978)   offscreen 2009 mini logo reviews horror A couple looking to repair their broken marriage goes on a weekend vacation to a remote beach for some camping, swimming, littering, random firing of guns and running over a kangaroo on purpose. Haven’t these people heard that it’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature?

(Major spoilers follow.)

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As much as I’d like to do a humorous review for Long Weekend, it isn’t all that humorous a film, making it hard to write a lighthearted overview. It also doesn’t help that the two main characters are both completely unlikable, but realistically so, making it hard to mock them. Marcia (Briony Behets) is whiny and self-absorbed, Peter (John Hargreaves) is arrogant and seems to be more concerned with his dog than his wife. The film itself could have devolved into an over-the-top camp-fest, but it plays more like a documentary, making it all the more chilling.

The film starts with Peter leaving his big-city job while Marcia prepares food for the weekend. Immediately there’s a sense of detachment between the two which endures throughout the drive to the countryside. Marcia doesn’t even seem to notice when Peter plows into a kangaroo with their Land Rover; this incident becomes the first of many where their extreme disrespect for nature is on display. Other infractions, some major, some minor, follow and the consequences are dire for both characters.

Long Weekend (1978)   lwsunbeach 500x281 reviews horror At the campsite, they continue to bicker and pick at each other for minor infractions. They litter their campsite, spray insecticide on ants, steal an eagle’s egg, randomly shoot at and kill birds, and more or less act like complete jerks. It doesn’t take long before the nature and animals start fighting back: momma eagle attacks Peter; the harpoon gun “fires itself” at Marcia, nearly killing her; a dugong washed up on the beach and prematurely buried by Peter and Marcia slowly creeps towards their campsite; a possum bites Peter; and so on and so on.

Eventually, however, their ultimate undoing lies in their paranoia and panic. Peter fires his harpoon gun into the noisy darkness after Marcia has left in the Land Rover, only to find out the next morning that he’s speared her in the throat. He finds the Rover, gets it stuck in the mud, then runs from the forest on foot, only to run out in front of a truck. Had they maintained calm, or just left when Marcia wanted to, they would have stood a better chance of making it out alive. Unfortunately, though, something got the best of them, playing with their senses and driving them to death.

Long Weekend (1978)   lwgun 500x281 reviews horror Long Weekend isn’t exactly clear on if the attacks are really nature getting revenge or if the incidents are purely coincidental. It turns out that it doesn’t matter, since Peter accidentally kills Marcia and then he accidentally kills himself in a fit of panic. Whether they know it or not, the makers of The Blair Witch Project owe quite a bit to Long Weekend: the speculation that there wasn’t really an external force but an internal one comes to mind. This isn’t to say that Peter and Marcia manifested the attacks, but it is possible that the attacks are purely coincidental, and that their deaths are caused by their senses being so keyed-up from fear. Perhaps a better comparison lies with people who say that God allowed or intended an event to happen and people who say that sometimes events just happen without reason. It’s purely fascinating to me that in a film like this, the main characters essentially kill themselves, as opposed to a bear, a tree, or that creepy dugong.

Long Weekend (1978)   lwharpoon 500x281 reviews horror The cinematography lends to the realistic feel of the film; the only misstep is in the eagle attack scene, which looks partially shot with a fake bird. Other than that, there are documentary-quality shots of the beach, the woods, various animals and their surroundings. These serve well to contrast the ugliness of the campsite and the Land Rover, which look even boxier and stiff than they normally would.

I fully expected a film more in the vein of Prophecy (1979), where an abnormal inside-out bear attacks the protagonists, nor are there inside-out bears or people in bear costumes. Instead, there aren’t even any protagonists, aside from nature. There isn’t any humor in this film to be seen or heard, not even of the unintended variety. There’s a mess of problems beyond the characters not liking each other, including such hot button topics as adultery and abortion, two purely unnatural acts. Without getting too political, cheating on a spouse and ending a pregnancy are not acts of nature, but of man.

Long Weekend (1978)   lwtruck 500x281 reviews horror It also doesn’t help that the woods themselves seem to change in the night. Peter and Marcia seem to get lost when they first venture into the wilderness, but the next day it seems they were mere yards from their intended destination. Even when they try to escape at the end, they are unsuccessful; one gets the impression that they were doomed from the start, even without their crimes against nature during the trip.

Simply put, they never had a chance.


Rating: Long Weekend (1978)   star reviews horror Long Weekend (1978)   star reviews horror Long Weekend (1978)   star reviews horror Long Weekend (1978)   star reviews horror Long Weekend (1978)   blankstar reviews horror


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