These are some expanded thoughts from this mini-review at HorrorSquad.
I don’t think NATURE’S GRAVE, as LONG WEEKEND has been retitled by Screen Media Films for distribution in the States, is as engaging as Blanks and Roche’s last collaboration, STORM WARNING, but it’s a likeable adult take on the nature-gone-amuck subgenre. This isn’t some Syfy Saturday premiere of all animals versus all humans, it’s a scaled story of a couple going through a severe rough patch in their relationship that happen to be assaulted by eagles and ants and mysterious shadows in the water. James Caviezel and Claudia Karvan are both good in it and there is a palpable air of dread to the entire thing that I admired more on a second go, after I was no longer expecting all animals versus all humans.
I also admire how relatively objective Roche’s script is. Sure there are obvious shots of the married couple needlessly abusing nature, of Caviezel’s character of Peter chopping down a tree for no reason or Karvan’s Carla smashing a bird’s egg in a fit of fury. But it’s not a preachy, “This is what you get when you don’t recycle” kind of approach. Peter and Carla are Joe and Jane Schmoe characters. They’re already irritable from a marital problem whose origin is unclear, so their disrespect for nature is a realistic expansion of being consumed with frustration for each other. It’s not so much that these two, specifically, get what’s coming. It’s more so that irresponsible and disrespectful people in general get what’s coming, which is a horror movie message I can get behind.
NATURE’S GRAVE is the kind of movie you put on on a Saturday afternoon, maybe while you’re paying bills or cleaning up the living room. And that’s not a condemnation. I’m not out to imply that there’s anything in Blanks’ film or Roche’s script that crumbles when given undivided attention. There are just some movies that play better in the background than others. NATURE’S GRAVE will snap your attention from time to time, whether it be with a revelatory barb of dialog or a new threat from Mother Nature, but it’s not going to blow your mind and that’s perfectly okay. It has some memorable moments, foreboding photography and it ends exactly how I wanted it to end. That’s about as Saturday afternoon as it gets.