I knew from the very beginning that this movie was going to be a doozie.
Set out in the middle of nowhere Australia between the wilderness and the beach, the movie has only two characters. There are a few others in the beginning, but we slough them off on our way out to the remote campsite.
We need to get them out there, alone at the campsite because they are assholes and nature is going to get them but good.
It sounds like a standard horror type film. I recognized James Caviezel‘s name from The Count of Monte Cristo, where he did a more or less acceptable job, and as someone who played Jesus, which I never saw. He was playing opposite Claudia Karvan, who I didn’t recognize and was apparently in Daybreakers – a movie I claim to have watched, but which I am certain put me to sleep before the opening credits were done.
The filming is done in a less slick fashion than most movies. The sort of indie style that either works or adds nothing but the constant reminder that you are watching a movie filmed in a particular style for some obtuse reason you wish the director had never imagined in one of his late night rum and tobacco hazes. Whew. Eventually I got over it, but only because it began to get weird.
We are treated to the constant tension that only a bickering couple can provide. The kind of bickering couple that will never be able to stop hating each other. They are that annoying. It could be argued that the two actors were an astounding success because I really did want to strangle both of them for being such utter pricks. I would argue that it was mostly just grating as part of a B horror movie. You have to give me something to work with. At no point is there horror movie tension (or any glint of humor or self-awareness). You, the viewer, will become gleeful at the prospect that one of these twits will finally be made to shut the fuck up. The longer that took to happen, the more I wanted them to suffer for what they were putting me through. Shit, we can go hang out with friends and relatives if we really want to witness the spectacular joys of relationship failure in action.
Now let’s get to the basis of the movie. The revenge of nature on these representatives of modern man. If you wanted to, you could mark them with each of the seven deadly sins. How do we know these people are bad? Well, the writers slyly showed us. The woman is a cheater and the man is a greedy, white-collar fuckstick. They drove over a joey (that’s a baby kangaroo, mate) without stopping or even really recognizing that anything unusual happened. The dood tosses a cigarette butt out the window, which starts a brush fire as they cruise away in their massive SUV full of newly purchased camping gear ($10,000 worth, we are told). Within minutes of arriving at camp, plastic bags fly off into the woods and the man is cranking down booze and playing with guns.
I know, you are thinking that it sounds like a quality night out. That may be true, but for the purposes of the movie, this subtle streak of behavior has established for the thinking movie-watcher that these people might be in trouble.
We are going to ignore the fact that Australia is King Shit when it comes to poison dealing life forms and that the possibility of a painful death should have been a known risk here. However, we will not ignore the fact that there is a side part of the movie involving a dead dugong (that’s like a manatee, which is like a cow with flippers and a Wilford Brimley mustache) making its way inch by inch…inch by inch…up the beach. OMG RUN FOR THE HILLS!
It just gets more insane every minute. That’s giggly clown insane. There is a dead family that came in a Vanagon (oh, those crazy hippies). A dangerous looking spider that never figures into anything. An abandonment. A greek tragedy shooting (with a speargun). A chase scene involving snakes and maybe a few trees. A bird-induced semi-trailer truck accident.
You didn’t miss anything. Trust me, none of the previous scenes would have come as a surprise in the course of a viewing. Except perhaps the mysterious dugong. That will haunt me.
At least the main character was drunk the whole time, which is what I could have used during the 88 minutes I spent with this movie.
Nature got its revenge on all of us. I’ll never start another brush fire again.
The movie was first done as Long Weekend (which I gather is the secondary title to Nature’s Grave) in 1978 and starred John Hargreaves. I would bet money that I would enjoy that version better. I would also bet the dead family was driving the same Vanagon back then.