Long Weekend (2008)

Director Jamie Blanks
Writers Everett De Roche
Starring James Caviezel, Claudia Karvan
Genre Nature Attacks
Tagline Mother nature has a dark side.

Talk us through it

A couple, Peter and Carla, head bush in a futile attempt to save their marriage after some indiscretions involving hotel rooms and terminated pregnancies. Carla would have been much happier checking into some four star accommodation but Peter is adament that they should check out the surf at the mythical Moondah Beach along with a couple of friends. Weren't they meant to be working on their marriage? The locals at the well named Eggleston Hotel have never heard of Moondah Beach, but failing to take the hints Peter continues into the night leaving word at the Hotel for his mates.

Our bickering couple eventually arrive at some place off the beaten track and proceed to hunker down. Naturally being a suburban couple they immediately start to wreck more havoc on the local environment than BHP could achieve with ten years of open cast mining. Next day Peter is happily engrossed in his toys; surfboard, spear gun, and his dad's old rifle. Carla makes do with defrosting chickens, reading books, and doing things that might endanger her eyesight. It isn't long before nature, in the form of various critters, starts to make it's dislike of the environmental vandalism known.

Is nature fighting back or are our suburban campers simply out of their element with the marriage break up clouding their logic? Maybe an errant dugong has the answer?


Guess eventually it had to happen, someone thought it would be a real good idea to remake an Australian horror classic and see if modern audiences would take the bait and dial into things. Strangely writer Everett De Roche takes the Gus Van Sant approach and pretty much throws together a scene by scene translation of the Long Weekend vibe circa 1978. While I am generally appalled by remakes offering nothing new to original concepts I'm left completely dumb founded by De Roche taking this approach as he was responsible for the original movie's script. In the intervening thirty years between the original and the remake the Writer hasn't really decided one thing needed improving on from the original. One is left wondering why the frack we needed a remake then! What worked in 1978 is no longer working in 2008 and De Roche gives the Audience a salient lesson in how society views change completely by accident. Do we therefore call De Roche the “accidental social commentator”?

Let's get a couple of the issues with the movie out of the way before trying to fathom what exactly De Roche and Director Blanks thought they were going to achieve with this less the auspicious start to the Australian remake bandwagon.

From the opening scene it would appear that Carla at least, I'm unsure if Peter still lives at the family abode, hails from the leafy environs of your typical Toorak style urban Aussie paradise. Given that the family two story federation style hacienda looks to be worth a far whack of most small Countries' GNP I'm left wondering how a bogan like Peter can afford to live there! Even taking into account the modern CUB phenomenon it doesn't ring true. De Roche is trying to re-introduced the urban warrior from the original movie but it simply doesn't work in the modern setting. Maybe if Peter and Carla ventured forth from the western sprawl it would be more believable, but even then I would be wondering what sort of time warp I had staggered into. The character of Peter is a by gone stereotype of the Aussie male, and the actor portraying Peter isn't even an Ocker. Carla at least presents as the typical white middle class Toorak matron but Peter would have been hard pressed getting a job mowing lawns in the suburb. Sorry this aspect of the film simply rendered the rest of the movie as some drug induced fantasy conjured up by a Nimbin hippy trying to explain a recent outbreak of trench foot in the commune, it's all the man's fault and they are destroying the environment or some such. What worked thirty years ago is no longer believable in the modern environmentally conscious world folks, especially among the affluent white middle classes.

The character of Peter is such a complete and utter arsehole that you have to wonder how exactly Carla can bare to be in the same Country with him let alone the same car. De Roche seems to have spent time on every single page of the script pointing out how utterly reprehensible the character is and then doesn't bat an eyelid in having the demonstratively more urban Carla putting up with the macho prick. Sorry another miss on the “ring's true” scale. Peter is a throw back to Neanderthal times when dinosaurs like Rex Mossip walked the earth and would have been tarred and feathered if making an appearance on most middle class streets. Once again it's this clash of bogan male with upwardly mobile modern female that isn't working and can I mention the time lag between 1978 and 2008 again? No effort is made in modernising Peter leaving the audience wondering what Penriff rent controlled apartment he might have materialised from.

Okay so the script is flawed, mainly due to the horrendously bad decision by De Roche to simply put his 1978 male character into a modern setting, how did Jamie Blanks translate it to the screen? While the movie is good to look at Blanks follows De Roche's lead with not extending things from Colin Eggleston's original vision. About the only changes going down are a more modern 4x4, cricket the dog being somewhat livelier, and a CGI dugong of infinitely amusement.

I'm not entirely sure what Blanks remit was here but if it was to pretty much try for a shot by shot reproduction of the original movie then he was doing his job exceptionally well. The gritter realism that Blanks brought to his previous movie Storm Warning is missing as he tries and fails to achieve the almost mythical qualities of Eggleston's original Long Weekend. While some things are working a lot of the remake is a pale imitation of a far superior movie.

We once again have the almost Freudian entrance to the beach that dripped blood with all roads leading to the same camping spot. It's a striking symbolic vision of leaving one reality and entering another nightmarish one. Unfortunately Blanks is unable to sustain the mythical nightmare through the rest of the movie as major scenes from the original are ticked off in predictable fashion. About the only thing missing was the rotund Jack Russell from hell, I could have supplied that requirement assuming being licked to death is a scary concept to anyone potentially watching. The one scene where Blanks surpasses the original is ironically the final one where things take a very brutal turn. The Director has demonstrated he can make a horror movie with little trouble, here he demonstrates that maintaining an almost dream like Aussie nature to things is not in his resume.

The Director succeeds in making a movie that is pretty to look at, wild open spaces nearly always work in the Australian context, but he doesn't inject the menace and atmosphere that was so noticeable in the original. Perhaps if the individual viewing the movie has not seen the original then he/she will get on board Blanks jive train here.

The silly use of dugong CGI does provide some humour however, another case of less is more, and please look at the finished frames before considering releasing them to an Audience only to ready to try and find the humour in a horror movie that is trying to be oh so serious.

As one would expect with a two shot movie, there's no supporting cast outside the cameos going down in the local pub, the focus is heavily on the two leads and their deteriorating relationship. It's here where the movie completely falls apart in comparison to the original in my opinion. Carla starts out as slightly whinny and high maintenance and doesn't get much beyond that even as she becomes more assertive. Peter is simply the cardboard cut out “cashed up bogan” and really isn't prepared to work at the relationship if it looks likely to interfere with any of his planned weekend activities of slaughtering the local environment in various ways. This couple was doomed before they hit the beach, nature is simply cleaning house. Blanks tries for the gradually deteriorating external situation mirroring the emerging marriage issues but doesn't managed to hit the high notes Eggleston managed in the original. The undercurrent is there, it's simply not strong enough to wash us away.

James Caviezel (Peter), why oh why did we need a yank in a quintessential Aussie thriller, does the best he can with a poorly development character and comes up pretty wooden and flat. Whereas John Hargreaves managed to bring some sort of reason to the actions of Peter in the original, Caviezel portrays the character as simply an arsehole out to get his own way regardless. The character of Peter isn't working in the remake folks. Claudia Karvan (Carla), an otherwise fine actress see Daybreakers, is at sea here and is badly cast. Carla is totally unbelievable in terms of actions and motivations.

T&A has been heavily reduced in Lost Weekend, dudes get Claudia charging around in a pretty effective bikini while the ladies get Caviezel showing off the upper body work. Equal opportunity there from Jamie Blanks.

Jamie Blanks does John Carpenter and composes the score. While it's based on the original by Michael Carlos Blanks has given it a more modern flavour and this is one aspect of the remake that for mine is working better than the original. In Blanks hands the score is a lot more sinister and hits the eerie quota with consummate ease.

Summary Execution

When Long Weekend (2008) finally hit my desk I must admit to being intrigued by what could be done with a remake of an Aussie classic. The answer was very little as pretty much we get a cut rate frame by frame reproduction of events that all Aussie horror fans have already seen. The leads weren't working for me, outside of cricket the dog, and the movie lacked the intensity of the original. Very unsatisfying movie for mine and probably not one I'll be watching again any time soon. There was simply no need to go to the well again, but if you are going to do so then at least try for modern character motivations rather than cardboard cut out reasoning from a bygone era.

Not surprisingly the movie disappeared from cinema released dates in 2008 Downunder, then from DVD lists, and pretty much submerged under the radar as locals eyed up the options. A few reviews leaked out of North America, mainly by Reviewers who hadn't caught the original, that were positive but no word from Downunder was hitting the streets. To the Producers of Long Weekend, there's plenty of guns for hire in this part of the world who will sell their opinions for an in at the quote whore table. The movie finally found a release date almost by surprise with little to no fanfare. For those trying to find the film up north the title was changed to the less than auspicious Nature's Grave due to conflicts with a Boredwood flick.

No recommendation here, Long Weekend is trying to be a serious reflection on various things but simply comes off as pretentious and not all that interesting for those of us who have seen the far superior original. Put the movie on at your own risk, it's going to seem like a bloody long weekend before the end credits come up.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  History never repeats, unless it involves a movie set on a long weekend.