• Long Weekend (2008)



    Released by: Showbox Media
    Released on: 2/8/2010
    Director: Jamie Blanks
    Cast: Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan
    Year: 2008

    The Movie:

    A remake of an Australian cult classic, Long Weekend follows a couple made up of Peter (Jim Caviezel) and Carla (Claudia Karvan) who are, at the beginning of the film, getting ready to go camping with some friends for the weekend. They’re hoping that this weekend of rest and relaxation out on the Australian coast far removed from civilization will help them find the spark that has obviously left their marriage. Failing that, if nothing else it’ll allow Peter to try out all of his fancy new camping gear. So after packing up the gear and the dog, they head out to the pub where they’re supposed to meet up with their friends, but due to some nasty weather, the other couple doesn’t make it. Peter and Carla decide to head to the beach alone and spend the night in their SUV, intent on setting up camp the next morning once the weather clears.

    Once they set up, Peter pulls out his father’s old rifle, taking periodic shots at local critters and tossing his empty beer bottles into the woods. Carla sets fire to some ants and after they see a large creature out in the surf that they think is a shark, Peter shoots it to death. Soon enough, however, their actions start to catch up with them. That night Carla wakes up sure that she’s hearing a baby crying in the middle of the night. Peter gets attacked by a bird. It almost seems like the environment is closing in on them, intent on making them pay for their transgressions. Making matters worse, that other couple never does show up, while tensions mount between Peter and Carla who just can’t stop bickering and arguing with one another.

    Released in the U.S. last year by Screen Media under the dopey alternate title of Nature’s Grave, Jamie Blanks’ remake of Colin Eggleston’s 1978 nature gone amok thriller isn’t awful as so many remakes tend to be. It’s a slow moving film that builds to a pretty satisfying conclusion and while it’s not going to offer up many surprises to those who are familiar with the original film, it does benefit from some really impressive cinematography and beautiful location shooting. On a surface level, this is a fairly atmospheric slow burn picture and a fairly well made one at that.

    Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan are pretty good in their respective roles, though it’s exceedingly difficult to like them or feel for them as the film plays out. Their actions basically confirm that they’ve brought all of this on themselves, and their constant fighting and bitchiness makes you wonder if their marriage is worth the effort it’s obviously going to take to repair it. If this is an attempt to garner audience sympathy for the leads, it doesn’t work. Peter and Carla are jerks, but to Caviezel and Karvan’s credit, they do play them well.

    This remake doesn’t really bring anything new to the table but it’s entertaining enough and well made. Some are bound to be put off by the pace and the often times unpleasant atmosphere created by the two central characters but in the context of the story it all works. It’s not a classic and it doesn’t have quite the same sense of foreboding as the superior original film, but it’s not a bad way to kill an hour and a half.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen transfer on this disc is a good one. The image is sharp, colorful and clean without any mpeg compression artifacts to complain about or much in the way of print damage or heavy grain. Skin tones look good, the greens of the flora and fauna surrounding Peter and Carla are appropriately lush and while a couple of scenes look just a bit soft, most of the time we’ve got a pretty impressive looking picture here.

    Also quite good is the English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on this DVD. There’s plenty of interesting background noise and ambient effects throughout the movie, especially once we get to the campsite where you’ll pick up on plenty of eerie animal noises. The score is well mixed, dialogue is clear, and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to note.

    There isn’t much to speak of on the first disc, only some menus, a trailer, and chapter selection, but the second disc in this set is loaded up with some pretty solid extras starting with the Director’s Production Diary. This segment affords Jamie Blanks to opportunity to talk about what it was like spearheading this film, shooting out in the boonies, and working not only with the actors but with the crew as well. It’s a pretty interesting and in-depth look at the man’s approach to this project and very much worth checking out.

    The Interview Gallery section contains talks with Claudia Karvan, Everett De Roche and Toby Eggleston about their various roles in the picture and about their experiences making it. The standard Making Of documentary covers effects work, location shooting, environmental difficulties and other aspects of the production while the Peter’s Death: Behind the Scenes With Grant Page And Roger Ward featurette lets the legendary actor and equally legendary stuntman (or, should we say, stunt rocker!) extraordinaire show us how the film’s bloody finale was created and executed. The final featurette, Taming The Wild, is a short but truly fascinating look at how real animals were used in the picture and the complications that this can bring to a set. A deleted scene called Jim And The Ducks finishes off a pretty impressive collection of supplements. There’s two hours or so of added content included on this second disc, and the vast majority of it is very worthwhile.

    The Final Word:

    This remake of Long Weekend isn’t bad, but by the time it’s all said and done it feels a bit unnecessary as it doesn’t really improve on anything or do anything all that differently. That said, it’s got some good atmosphere and some interesting tension between the two central characters and enough eerie spots that it’s worth a watch. Showbox has done a fine job on the DVD release, presenting the feature in good quality and loading up the set with extras which are actually more interesting than the movie itself.