Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Mess with nature and it might mess back

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Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: With Wild hiking into theaters, we’ve lined up a series of films about people braving the great outdoors.

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Long Weekend (1978)
Nature takes its wrath out on a warring couple in Long Weekend, a 1978 Australian thriller in which mankind’s callousness—toward each other, and its surroundings—is viciously punished. Routinely using God’s-eye-view compositions to suggest that his characters are being judged by a higher power, director Colin Eggleston employs a methodical pace to generate slowly mounting tension for his story about Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets), who are at each other’s throats even before they embark on a weekend camping trip to a remote beach. Once there, their marital discord flourishes, and as they continue to take their frustrations and unhappiness out on each other, so too do they mistreat their environment, with Peter throwing lit cigarettes out the car window into the brush, running over a kangaroo, and—once they finally get to their secluded destination—killing a sea cow in the ocean.

These crimes against nature don’t go unpunished for long, as both Peter and Marcia soon find themselves beset by wildlife, with an eagle and possum attacking Peter, ants infesting the food brought by Marcia, and the corpse of the sea cow continuing to reappear in ever closer proximity to their site. All the while, strange howls are heard in the distance, as if Mother Earth herself is screaming out in pain. Throughout, director Eggleston employs long stretches of silence and intense close-ups to dig deeply into the rot infesting his protagonists’ union, and to create a chilling sense of the madness that their behavior has wrought. The fact that Peter and Marcia’s contentiousness stems, at least in part, from an instance of adultery and the abortion that followed, further their dire situation as the byproduct of their own violent disregard for life of any kind—a suggestion that Long Weekend, in its final scene, ultimately casts as endemic to the human race as a whole.

Availability: Long Weekend is available on DVD, which can be obtained from Netflix or your local video store/library, and to rent or purchase from the major digital services.