Two middle-class Australians – Peter (John Hargreaves) and his wife Marcia (Briony Behets) – drive out of the city for a long weekend’s camping by the sea. They are barely speaking to each other and Marcia hates the outdoors.
They get lost in the dense coastal bushland that night and have to sleep in the car. Peter – an executive in his early 30s – builds a camp early the next day and leads Marcia – a tangle of neurotic housewife and deprived wife – to the view.
Their spirits lift with the magnificent unspoilt beach, but Marcia has a growing sense of unease, fuelled by a recurring sound, like a baby animal crying.
When she sees a dark shape in the water, she cries out to Peter to get out of the water. Peter’s loaded spear gun goes off, nearly hitting her.
Later, he takes his dog, Cricket, for a walk, wanting to try out his new gun. Along the beach, he sees a van on the dunes.
Back with Marcia, they kiss but she refuses to make love. They argue, so Peter goes for a surf. Again, she panics and calls him back. This time, he sees something. He shoots at it from the beach. She begs him to leave this place, but he refuses.
An eagle swoops down and attacks Peter in the camp. Marcia smashes the eagle’s egg she found. They argue about the abortion she has had, after an affair that he encouraged.
That night, Peter is bitten by a possum. He agrees to leave the next morning. They are packing up when Marcia sees a dead dugong on the beach – shot by Peter the day before.
Peter insists on driving up the beach to check out the other campers. They find the van driven into the water, with the body of a young girl inside.
Marcia becomes increasingly frantic to leave. They fight again and she takes off in the car.
As night closes in, Peter loses his cool, firing his rifle randomly at noises in the bush. Marcia becomes lost and abandons the car. Peter arms himself with the spear gun after his ammunition runs out. He fires wildly at a noise in the dark, killing Marcia.
As the sun rises, he realises what he has done and finds his way out onto the highway, but a cockatoo swooping down distracts a semi-trailer driver whose vehicle (filled with cattle) crashes Peter to the ground. He lies dead – roadkill, like the kangaroo he ran over earlier in the film.
Long Weekend was shot near Bega on the south coast of NSW, over 27 days in 1977 for a budget of only $270,000. It made little impression at the box office but it won numerous prizes in Europe and has attracted a cult following.
Briony Behets was the girlfriend of the director, Colin Eggleston.
Sue Kiss von Soly