Based on the book by Sarah Alderson, Netflix’s The Weekend Away takes that age-old adage about foreign places being prickly and dangerous, and runs with it. It sets itself apart from films such as Turistas and Hostel by keeping the stakes—and violence—relatively low. A mystery angle does not circle around our character with the scariness of an unknown locale, instead opting for a straightforward depiction of woman-framed-for-murder. With Leighton Meester in her element, I truly wish I loved this movie. If everything around her performance was not strictly so dull and lifeless, maybe The Weekend Away would stand a chance.
The film opens with a lifeless body floating in the water, already alerting viewers that we are in for a capital M murder. The action then flashes back, just as Kate (Christina Wolfe) and Beth (Leighton Meester) meet up for a best friend weekend getaway. This time, Croatia is their idyllic destination. Beth’s husband, Rob (Luke Norris), is at home caring for their baby, while Beth is trying to have a relaxing vacation of connection with her bestie. It has been over a year since she and Rob have been intimate, as Beth reveals early on, and Kate tries hard to convince her that she needs to move on for the sake of her own happiness.
Kate wants them to “relive their misspent youth” on a night of hard partying and charging expensive meals on her ex’s credit card. Beth reluctantly obliges, giving in to temptation. The next morning, she wakes up puking with no recollection of what occurred the night before. Kate is missing and not answering her calls, and Beth suspects they may have been drugged and swindled. Connecting with their taxi driver, Zain (Ziad Bakri), proposes the only possible way to get answers about Kate’s sudden disappearance.
The Weekend Away presents itself as a harrowing mystery thriller, and for the first twenty minutes or so, functions quite seamlessly. Then Kate’s body washes up, and from that point, there is nothing to really recommend. The story is half-baked, the thriller element is virtually nonexistent, and a supporting cast does little to elevate it. The movie culminates in two unsatisfying reveals, the final of which is punctuated by a predictable and generic twist.
Leighton Meester deserves so much better than this middling Lifetime retread. The Weekend Away feels like a bargain-bin carbon copy of Netflix’s own fish-out-of-water thriller, Beckett. One thing it definitely is not: original. We have seen this type of film executed on a high level so many times that caring about Beth’s struggles elicit no more than a yawn. At least the movie, directed by Kim Farrant, looks pretty, utilizing Croatian filming locales.
The Weekend Away books a trip to Croatia when it debuts exclusively on Netflix on Thursday, March 3rd.