Where’s Bear Grylls when you need him?
On what is supposed to be a fun weekend to belatedly catch up with events in each other’s lives, five friends embark on a hike into the woods where they inevitably become lost. As they struggle to survive, and as their number begins to dwindle, the true motivations behind the getaway are slowly revealed.
How much you will enjoy Lou Simon’s All Girls Weekend will be determined very early on in the first act. As the girls gather the night prior to setting off on their trip, and with past tensions between them already coming to the fore, they engage in a little basic chit-chat over a few cocktails. Some viewers will see this as an interesting, observant study of characters with repressed feelings simmering just under the surface. Others, and we suspect the majority, will see these scenes as irritatingly whiny; a collection of shallow, uninteresting women who bicker inanely about who cares what?
Many of the problems with All Girls Weekend stem from those unconvincing characters, and the portrayal of those characters by actors who struggle to overcome the weaknesses in the script and plot. None of the dialogue ever feels natural, as if an attempt has been made at ad-libbing many of the scenes without ever telling the cast what their character’s motivations are. This leaves the film feeling distinctly disjointed as you never get a true sense of the girls themselves. The plotting offers little help, throwing the cast into scenarios that never seem as dangerous as they would have us believe: one of the girls develops frostbite after dangling her fingers in a stream for a few moments and yet we never really believe it is truly that cold. On another occasion, two of the remaining girls are told of the death of one of their friends and react as if they just found out they missed their bus.
All Girls Weekend feels too much like a student filmmaker’s first term attempt, or a terrible reality TV show rip-off that should be hosted by some Bear Grylls-wannabe on some ropey satellite channel no-one ever watches. The script needed at least one more pass to tighten up the dialogue. The direction and editing are formulaic and routine, as if taken directly from Chapter One in the ‘Where to Point the Camera’ textbook. The performances are awkwardly uncomfortable, giving the impression of a rushed shoot where the phrase “that’ll do” was the motto of all involved.
It shouldn’t be this way. Lou Simon is a writer and director with promise but, as with her other films Hazmat and Agoraphobia, she has again failed to convert an interesting premise into an interesting film.
Could, and should, do better. Could, and should, do much, much better.
ALL GIRLS WEEKEND / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: LOU SIMON / STARRING: JAMIE BERNADETTE, KATIE CARPENTER, GEMA CALERO, MICHELLE GOURDINE / RELEASE DATE: TBC