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Long Weekend (2008)
12th 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. Again.
Another day, another dollar, another horror remake. This time, though, it's time to remake a classic from the 70s Ozploitation boom, although one that doesn't involve kung-fu, soft-core sex or car chases. Yes, the 1978 seminal almost masterpiece Long Weekend is bought up to date to the noughties, and without a mobile phone in sight.
It's the story of Peter and Carla, 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. Carla, 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, Carla 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 Carla 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, Carla 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.
Now if you're a regular reader of eatmybrains.com, that last couple of paragraphs may sound familiar. That's because I've shamelessly taken those words straight out of our review for the original Long Weekend, but there's no guilt involved here mainly because this movie is practically a scene for scene remake. As far as I can remember the only differences to the story or script are the change of name of Marcia to Carla, an extra subplot about them supposedly meeting their friends, more intense scenes with the manatee and an interesting sequence where Carla gets bored and has a little play with herself, ironic consider how desperate Peter is for it. Apart from that the story is exactly the same, it's just the execution that's different.
What really lets the remake down is the approach they've taken to the way this has been filmed. It's bright, clean, and the cinematographer goes all out to show us how beautiful the Austalia outback beaches are. This is the sort of film that makes you wish you were there, whereas in the original you're so glad you're not there. Gone are all those shots of wildlife staring at them, judging them for their disregard for nature, instead we get immaculate sand dunes and glorious blue waves lapping against a perfect beach. It simply misses the point of the film, and kills the forboding feeling that permeates the original throughout.
The remake of Long Weekend is clearly not a terrible film though, not by any means. While not great, the performances by the two leads is good (even if American Jim Caviezel's Ozzie accent is occasionally a bit dodgy), the direction is good if a little flat, and the cinematography is often breathtaking, but as I said that misses the point. You never actually feel like anything bad is going to happen to the two of them, which makes the manic last 10 minutes seem all the more disjointed to the rest of the film. The shock ending is still there, with a little bit more contemporary gore than the original, but the journey to get there isn't as satisfying.
If you're a fan of one of the leads, or have some weird issue with 70s movies, then this might be for you. If not, you're better off tracking down the original, which is now readily available in both here in the UK and across the pond.