Reviewed by Andrew kasch
Starring James Caviezel, Claudia Karvan, Roger Ward, John Brumpton, Robert Taylor
Directed by Jamie Blanks
Distributed by Screen Media
1998. Gus Van Sant releases a shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and is immediately denounced as the biggest blasphemer in cinema history.
2008. Jamie Blanks, director of several bad slasher films, takes the obscure Australian gem Long Weekend and does the same exact thing.
So I ask you: Which is worse?
In this writer’s opinion, Nature’s Grave – the re-titled rehash of the latter 1978 classic – is not only the bigger offender, it may be the most creatively-devoid remake we’ve seen yet.
When Van Sant remade Psycho, there were no delusions. It was an experiment in film; a laborious attempt to duplicate the most visually-influential movie in cinema history. With Nature’s Grave Blanks has taken an obscure-but-incredible movie and made a carbon copy without any genuine artistic voice or motivation behind it. It’s literally the same damn thing. Practically every shot and line of dialogue is duplicated, only with the added “Jesus Power” of Jim Caviezel (whose giant face adorns one of the worst DVD Photoshop covers in recent memory). And why? What for? I still have no idea.
The plot of Long Weekend/Nature’s Grave is fairly simple: A bickering, unpleasant couple decides to take a vacation in the middle of the Australian wilderness in a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Once there, these city folk waste no time doing things that would send Smokey the Bear into cardiac arrest. They spread their junk, create fire hazards and trample all over the surrounding wildlife. But “Mother Nature” quickly strikes back and they soon find themselves isolated when their surroundings begin to attack with an almost supernatural vengeance.
Both films are slow-burn atmospheric exercises in terror. The only difference is that one has a distinct artistic voice and the other one doesn’t. It’s really that simple. Because Nature’s Grave is so slavishly devoted to the original, it earns a few points due to expert cinematography and sound design – but Blanks (as usual) understands little beyond camera mechanisms. The performances here are vastly inferior and the ever soft-spoken Caviezel just can’t play a convincing asshole, no matter how hard he tries.
So what’s on the DVD? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Honestly, Nature’s Grave isn’t worth wasting words on. It’s Grand Theft Cinema: a pointless, artless clone that serves no purpose. Do yourself a favor and seek out the original Long Weekend to get a real horrific dose of nature run amok.
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
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