Long Weekend (UK - DVD R2)
Scott McKenzie sits down to watch what will now be called 'Jesus vs. Sea Cow'...
Peter (Jim Caviezel) and Carla (Claudia Karvan) are unhappy in their marriage. Despite their constant arguing, they decide to go away for a camping weekend with Peter’s friend and his girlfriend. After a long and confusing journey, Peter and Carla arrive at their ‘secret’ destination. Peter’s friend doesn’t make it to the campsite, leaving the unhappy couple to spend the long weekend together, with Mother Nature starting to turn against them and their non-eco-friendly ways.
Jim Caviezel, where did it all go wrong? Just a few years ago I was sitting in a cinema watching a prosthetic model of you getting torn to pieces and nailed to a cross in a two-hour epic of blood and torture. Now it’s 2010 and I’m sitting down to a straight-to-DVD release of you going on a camping expedition and you know what? I think Long Weekend was even more torturous. I had high hopes of enjoying a charming low budget gore fest in a tale of man vs. the elements, but alas it was not to be. Words almost fail me as to my dislike of this film, but I’ll do my best...
Long Weekend has a similar premise to Eden Lake and Wolf Creek–unwitting innocents head out into the wilderness and fall foul of something or someone they weren’t expecting. Those movies achieve their aims very well, building very uncomfortable tension throughout until the horrific pay-off. Unfortunately Long Weekend has no tension and the few key moments of plot development the budget allowed are either pointless or downright hilarious. For a start, the moment when Peter is attacked by an eagle looks incredibly fake, but that’s not the worst of it. I’ll reserve that for spoiler tags...
Spoiler The only attempt at a genuine fright is a beached dugong (or sea cow) that slowly makes its way up from the beach into the camp while Peter is sleeping. It makes no attempt to do anything to him—presumably because the budget wouldn’t stretch to animatronics—but the only realistic reaction to seeing Peter wake up and see an apparently dead dugong lying at his feet is laughter. Look up dugong on Wikipedia. Now imagine one lying dead at your feet. Scary? Thought not.
In pretty much every story of an unhappy couple who go away together and have to fight against a third party, the genre convention states that they have to rediscover their love for each other so at least one of them can survive. The problem with the two central characters in Long Weekend is that they start off as obnoxious, whiny people who hate each other and instead of coming together, they annoy each other even more. We’re supposed to think that Mother Nature is attacking them because of Peter’s abuse of his surroundings. In reality, Mother Nature is probably just sick of their bickering. If I had to spend a weekend in the wilderness with this couple, I’d want to kill them as well.
Long Weekend is presented in 2.35:1 and I have to say that the video quality is definitely the best thing about this release. The opening credit sequence features some nice landscape shots of the Australian coast, which don’t feature again throughout the movie. The picture is colourful but unfortunately does lack sharpness at times. The biggest complaint I have is that while the black level is generally good, a lot of the early scenes take place at night. That means that even though the darkness of the scenes is well-represented on screen, it’s sometimes a bit difficult to tell what’s going on, which doesn’t exactly help to draw the viewer into the movie.
There are two choices of audio track—stereo and 5.1 surround. I chose the 5.1 track for this review, but I may as well not have bothered. I found it difficult to pick up any real use of the surround channels and had to check that I’d chosen the right setting. This is disappointing because any movie set in a forest should have wildlife noises coming from every speaker to give the impression that the surroundings are alive, especially in a movie where the local animals out to get the main characters. There’s also a point towards the end where the dialogue takes a real wobble. There’s a weird echo that only affects a few lines but the dialogue on the whole doesn’t sound quite right, as if not enough time was spent on over-dubbing in post-production.
Fans of Long Weekend rejoice because here we have a bumper two-disc set! The first disc just contains the trailer for the feature and a bunch of trailers for other C-movies. Incidentally, if you are thinking about watching Long Weekend, don’t, I repeat, don’t watch the trailer first. That might sound odd but the only two exciting things that happen in the movie are both in the trailer. In fact, I’ve changed my mind—if you are thinking of watching Long Weekend, watch the trailer. That way you’ll catch the ‘exciting’ bits without having to sit through the rest of the movie.
Disc two is a bumper bonanza of behind the scenes footage, with featurettes that overlap their content ad nauseum. The ‘Director’s Production Diary’ is forty minutes of behind the scenes footage with commentary from Jamie Blanks. For fans left wanting due to the lack of a feature commentary track, this is the next best thing. Next we’ve got the ‘Making of’, which follows the filmmakers from the initial production meetings right up to wrapping the shoot. What struck me about this (and the rest of the behind the scenes footage) is that this movie was created by a large number of people who are obviously talented and know what they’re doing. Even the screenwriter has had a go at writing the movie twice— the original from the 70s and this remake. It’s just sad that their talents combined to produce such a stinker of a movie.
‘Taming the Wild’ is ten minutes of footage of the animals used in the movie and their handlers. ‘Peter’s Death – Behind the Scenes’ is at the same time more behind the scenes footage and a total spoiler for the end of the movie. What was going through the mind of the person who named this featurette? It’s like putting a extra feature on the Usual Suspects disc called ‘Verbal is Keyser Soze – Behind the Scenes’. We round off with three interviews and a deleted scene where Jim Caviezel does an impersonation of Christopher Walken while talking to ducks. That scene is more entertaining than the whole movie.
I’d like to say something good about Long Weekend, but I’m really struggling to find anything about it to recommend the movie to anyone unless you happen to like seeing Jim Caviezel with his shirt off. The DVD transfer is nothing to write home about and not only do the extras actually ruin the experience just by having spoilers in the titles, they’re just as boring as the movie itself.
Interesting’ fact – one of the producers of this movie is Tal Ben Haim, the Portsmouth FC player, so not only is he not getting paid by his club, he’s also burning his money on financing bad movies in his spare time. Good job, Tal.
Review by Scott McKenzie
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 8th February 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Trailers, Director's Production Diary, Interview Gallery, Deleted Scene, Making Of, Taming the Wild, Peter's Death - Behind the Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jamie Blanks
Cast: Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan
Length: 88 minutes
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