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Long Weekend (1978)
5th Oct 10
When a suburban couple go camping for the weekend at a remote beach, they discover that nature isn't in an accommodating mood.
Review Long Weekend is a seminal piece of 70s cinema, one of many that slipped out of Australia in that mid-70s Ozploitation boom. Many of those movies were overly violent, explosive and crammed packed with all the kind of stuff you'd associate with any kind of exploitation movie, Long Weekend on the other hand, is a much more subtle and different affair.
It's the story of Peter and Marcia, a suburban couple who at the start of the film are heading off in to the outback for a Long Weekend camping. But it's not long in to the journey that cracks begin to appear. They bicker and they quarrel from the off, and it soon becomes clear that the point of this weekend - for them to spend some quality time together - is quickly getting lost in their differences.
Peter, you see, is the outdoors type. He likes to drink beer, shoot small animals with hunting rifles and have barbecues in front of a tent pitched in the middle of nowhere. Marcia, on the other hand, likes a nice warm bed in a posh hotel and room service. And she reminds him that's what she likes constantly, they could even have afforded it if Peter hadn't gone out and spent a fortune on all this camping stuff. She's also incredibly bored, he can run around pissed shooting off his rifle at random wildlife no problem, Marcia on the other hand has nothing to do and just wants to go home. So as you can see, Peter's plan to get her in the wild then start the kissy cuddly routine on a secluded sand dune don't go to plan, and before you know it voices are raised, accusations fly and old issues come creeping out of the woodwork - issues of infidelity, unwanted pregnancies, the works. this couple clearly have problems.
But all the while you're watching, while Peter and Marcia scream at each other over the barby, you get the picture that they're not alone. They are, of course, it's just the two of them, but this weekend is definitely all about Peter, Marcia and the outback, and all the while they're letting rip in to each other, you get the picture that nature is paying close attention to what they're doing, and nature isn't happy.
Long Weekend is one of those movies that you know is low budget simply because of the locations and the fact that nearly all the screen time is made up of Peter and Marcia talking, in the same way that Blair Witch, Adrift and that crocodile movie have a handful of actors too. But like those other films, Long Weekend is all engrossing, mainly thanks to the tight script, the wonderfully on the money acting performances by the two leads and some very creepy incidental cinematography. Every time Peter chucks a can of beer, or shoot his gun off, or when Marcia smashes that eagle egg, or whenever they do anything against nature, the camera quickly pans to shots of wildlife just staring at them, and it's not nice. This sense of foreboding increases throughout the running time of the film, until by the end things get pretty frantic and it's a full on 'man versus nature' fight for survival.
All in all Long Weekend is either a lost classic if you've not seen it, or a recently released classic to add to your collection if you have. Considering it's just Marcia and Peter arguing for most of it it's amazing that it holds your attention, and the ending is enough to knock you off your chair if you're not familiar with it. I was about to say they don't make them like this anymore, but of course they do as this was recently remade with Jim Cazaviel in the title role, with questionable results. If you can only afford one version of Long Weekend, let it be this one.