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Nature's Grave (Long Weekend)

Film No Stars
I was rather incensed after watching this film that anyone would dare to compare it to Wolf Creek (Filmstalker review), or suggest that this is a continuing sign of the rise in Australian horror such as the Edinburgh International Film Festival brochure did. Under the British Sales of Goods Act (Revised) this would fall into the category as "goods not fit for purpose" or "sold as described", because it's more a complete embarrassment for the Australian horror genre and comparing it to Wolf Creek is suggesting that film is nothing more than a comedy of errors as Long Weekend, also known as Nature's Grave, is.

I mean having the main protagonist in the film being a dead sea cow that moves twenty feet every night is far from scary. Waking up to find it in the middle of your camp, not doing anything, just sitting there is about as horrific and dangerous as stubbing your toe. Surely you can outrun a corpse?

Long Weekend, now known as Nature's Grave, is a complete mess and does the careers of Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan no favours at all, in fact it might go down in their career history as being the most embarrassing films they've ever done.

Plot.pngNaturesGrave.jpgNature's Grave tells the story of a couple who are just beginning to have problems in their relationship and are heading away for a Nature's Grave with another couple. From the moment they set out you know that things aren't going well between them, and the tension grows even before they've set off. They needle each other deliberately, tired and irritated by each other, and the weekend doesn't look like it's going to help either of them.

As they head to their camping destination with surfing and relaxing in mind things start to look bleak. The travelling means they will be arriving in the dead of night, a pit stop in a nearby pub reveals atypical locals who are unfriendly and uncaring for strangers. They get lost heading to the camp site, and that's just the first night.

Their friends never arrive, and the man sets out on random trips of shooting anything, surfing, and investigating strangers camp sites, while the woman is content to soak up the sun and relax obviously preferring luxuries to the rugged outdoor life.

Events turn odd around them as strange natural portents appear, and, well, random odd things happen, they react randomly, and the film ends. There's really no discernible plot to follow.

TheFilm.pngThat's one of the biggest failings of the film, the plot. There just doesn't seem to be one. Events happen, randomly, without any purpose, dead things and people appear, the couple hint at some trouble between then and the loss of a child but nothing really comes of that either, natural events escalate around them and then the story ends. To top it all the natural events do really seem to concentrate around this dead sea cow which is moved in the middle of the night closer and closer to their camp.

The only really horrific thing is the fact that this got made in the first place.

The film begins with clichés and standard moments and these continue throughout the film, from the driving to the destination in the dark, hitting something unknown and arriving at the local pub where everyone turns around to eye the strangers suspiciously, and the going round and round in circles on a road that leads nowhere only to find that in the morning they are two feet from their camp site. The only surprises are in the complete oddities of the story which seem disconnected from anything happening around them.

I guess there is an attempt here to pit man against nature, a message of the abuse that of the planet and how nature fights back, but it goes nowhere, and as I said the focus on the sea cow is nigh on ridiculous, and just another example of how mishandled the plot lines were in the film. Let me explain this one in particular.

They see a dark shape out in the water while the man is swimming and they both panic, firing randomly into the sea they manage to create a large pool of blood around the shape and no more is seen of it. The next day the dead sea cow is on the beach. The following day they see it's moved twenty feet or so and the woman declares that it's still alive, and then they leave it without much more being said. The following day it's moved again, closer to the camp, then the following day it's in the middle of the camp. Panic and hysteria ensues.

Who knows why since it's clearly dead and if they left it another night maybe it would have magically dragged itself on. I mean what possible danger could it have done? Crawled on top of them in the middle of the night and suffocated them? I think they would have noticed a dead sea cow pulling itself on top of them, or they could have just gotten up and left. It's not like they can't outrun it, or even out walk it, for god's sake they could even have out crawled it!

Here's another bizarre moment, and one that shows another totally disconnected plot line. At one point Jim Caviezel's character gets attacked by an eagle, a truly laughable moment that seems straight out of a carry on film. It claws him in the face and does little more damage than give him a wee scratch and the eagle is off. He curses it and his anti-nature attitude is compounded by a sequence where he throws a beer can in the weeds and fires randomly at ducks with malicious glee.

Later his wife finds an egg which she thinks is an eagle egg, and in some connection to her own failed pregnancy she throws it against a tree in anger, smashing it. Suddenly, this guy who clearly couldn't give a hoot about nature and is quite keen on destroying it himself, is all upset that she's done this. Why has he suddenly found feelings for nature after randomly shooting ducks, shapes in the water and wantonly polluting the countryside?

How about another key turnaround thread? They are waiting on their friends arriving, and have been for a number of nights, and they still haven't arrived. Yet when they're in a panic to leave, scared to death of the dead sea cow, they are more concerned about visiting the neighbouring campers whom they've never talked to, visited, or even seen since arriving.

Talking of the campers, after finding the site ransacked and a dead child drowned in a sunken van, they are more concerned about their missing dog than either getting the hell out of there or reporting the death. Seems mightily strange behaviour.

The film and story just make no sense whatsoever. We keep seeing portents which go nowhere and lead to nothing, just warn of something. However at least the thoroughly hateful lead character seems to know everything about the noises right after the events, another bizarre aspect of the film.

The ending is transparent as anything and you can see it coming a mile off, there's absolutely no satisfaction in watching it play out either since there's no real plot or story to bring a conclusion to. It just ends. At least we can say that we don't have to put up with the lead character any more.

One laughable moment is the one where we see Caviezel playing a guitar and singing in the camp site at night and we're treated to shots of animals eating and foraging in the woods around him. I kid you not, this is right out of Three Amigos with the song Moon Shadows when the animals all start singing along. I laughed out loud in a crowded videotheque.

Overall.pngThis film is terrible, it really is. The Australian horror genre should be embarassed by this, as should Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan be. The plot is all over the place, no coherent structure or story development, cliches galore from all the wrong types of film, and no attempt made to try and make it scary or to develop anything from the characters upwards, never mind any attempt to try and explain anything in the film.

It'll make you laugh, groan and want to walk out, but it won't scare or shock, and by no means will it even come close to providing any level of entertainment. Where has Caviezel's career gone? Stay away, unless you're not paying money to see it, then you can laugh at it.

Filmstalker at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009
Buy Nature's Grave on Amazon.com
Nature's Grave on Wikipedia
Nature's Grave on UK IMDB



I watched the original Long Weekend earlier this year and for what it was it wasnt half bad. Not really a horror per say but the sound of the creature was rather weird and kinda creepy in it.

Well the original sounds bags better than this rubbish!


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