This is a reprint of a review first published at BlogCritics.org.
Weekender is one of those films which will play a lot better to fans of the particular subject matter, in this case it's the rave music scene of the late '80s and early '90s.
At the centre of this trip through that particular world is a fairly decent crime story about two friends who get in way over their heads with some dangerous people, but overall it is hampered with a frantic tone which evokes that type of music it's about and the lifestyle often associated with it.
We specifically follow two friends, Dylan (Jack O'Connell) and Matt (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), who decide to throw an illegal rave party. When it becomes an instant hit and the money starts to pile up they decide to throw more and more parties. This catches the attention of other people already in the business who don't like them sneaking their way in. Before long they are in the pocket of the dangerous John Anderson (Ben Batt) who seeks to control both them and their newfound business.
With an almost constant beating score to accompany the action - as well as lots of visual trickery which includes, but is not limited to, annoying camera tilts and overused slow-motion - for half the time Weekender is plain irritating. But when it concentrates on the crime aspect of the story and the friendship of the two main character's being tested that goes along with it, writer Chris Coghill (a prolific British TV actor) hits some great emotional beats.
There's a weird sense that Weekender could, and probably should, have been a lot more explicit with its use of violence and other dangers that could arise from the two character's eventual predicament. Although it's never good when violence is used for the sake of it, the film feels rather safe at times, especially when you look at it in the context of where cinema is today and how other films have dealt with an issue such as drug usage/dealing.
I expected Weekender to get the fun parts right and the drama completely wrong but as it turns out it's the complete opposite. The playful dialogue often feels forced - even with strong performances from its leads - and the constant barrage of rave music and the evoking of that sort of tone is (for the most part, anyway) just plain irksome. But the drama is definitely there as, in spite of all that the film does wrong, you actually end up caring about these characters. Go figure.