Nature’s Wrath

In the 70’s, there was a film called Long Weekend.  It was an Australian film in which nature decided it really did not like campers and their disrespect for their surroundings.  A couple years ago, the movie was remade, starring Jesus.  Uh, Jim Caveizel.  Titled Nature’s Grave, what I can say about this film is that it is probably the kind of horror movie Al Gore would make.

Jim and Claudia Karvan play Peter and Carla.  They are a married couple at the end of their relationship.  Peter cannot accept this and is trying to force the marriage to work.  He has convinced Carla that they should go and spend a holiday weekend (the original title of Long Weekend refers literally to the fact that it takes place on a long weekend due to a national holiday) in a coastal wilderness area.

They are supposed to be meeting up with another couple, but the other couple never arrives.  This is meant to be a real character driven film, focusing heavily on the quickly collapsing marriage.  Carla cheated on Peter, and was pregnant, but got an abortion, this has led to all sorts of resentment from Peter’s side.  The thing is, it is hard to feel sympathy for Peter-Caveizel plays him as unpleasent and abrasive.  He litters, shoots his gun carelessly, killing animals and leaving a trail of destruction so to speak.

Not long after stealing a  bird’s eggs and cooking them, Peter is attacked by the bird.  He starts to hear sounds-like a crying baby.  There is a beached manatee that seems to be dead, but it keeps moving further inland without explanation.  The stress of the strangeness pushes both to the edge, and Carla begs for them to leave.

Peter, on the other hand, is defiant and wants to prove he is in charge-not nature.  But he is rapidly cracking up.  Peter refuses to leave, even after making a rather gruesome discovery.  Carla, on the other hand, is tired of waiting for her husband to come around and takes the truck, leaving Peter behind, who insists they should stay and wait for their friends.

The ending is a slight shocker, but foretold in the previous gruesome  discovery.  It’s a somewhat poetic ending-in a horror movie sense.  However, the film is never strong enough to carry the weight of it’s convictions.  The characters are not sympathetic and it’s hard to want the marriage to survive.  It’s clearly a marriage that was doomed, with or without this trip.  And Peter is so self absorbed, you would not wish him on any woman.

The few nice and eerie moments are upstaged by the whole nature attack aspect which just seems silly, rather than scary.  When your film oscillates between painfully dull and silly?  That is just not a hopeful sign.  It certainly undercuts any potential for dramatic tension and scares.

I have heard better things about the Australian original, but this film was a let down.

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