The story concerns a couple in a disintegrating marriage, Peter (Hargreaves) and Marcia (Behets), who, along with their dog, go for a weekend camping trip. The couple, especially Peter, take out their frustrations on the natural environment, committing such crimes against the environment as killing a dugong, throwing lit cigarette butts in dry bush, and spraying insecticide. As tensions between the couple escalate, nature is not pleased with their environmental wrongdoing and starts to strike back, first by an eagle and possum attacking Peter, and then through more insidious means.
A remake was released in 2008, directed by Jamie Blanks and starring Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan in the lead roles.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Abortion Fallout Drama: A major source of the conflict between Marcia and Peter in their marriage stems from Marcia getting an abortion (possibly to conceal an affair she was having), and the former feeling lingering guilt about it.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: In addition to their unwarranted killing of the dugong (albeit due to mistaking it for something more dangerous like a shark), Peter and Marcia run over a kangaroo without a second thought, while Peter fires willy-nilly shots at ducklings and other creatures.
- Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the film, there is a television news story playing in the background about hordes of white cockatoos swarming people in the western suburbs of Sydney, and at the end of the film, it is a white cockatoo flying in a passing truck driver's face and causing him to swerve that seals Peter's fate.
- Creator Cameo: Director Colin Eggleston provides the voice of Marcia's lover on the phone. Additionally, producer Richard Brennan appears as the dugong. The scene where the black walrus like sea creature is seen swimming in the ocean is actually the film's producer in a marine mammal water-costume-rig.
- Empathic Environment: As Peter and Marcia's efforts to salvage their marriage implode (leading them to take out their frustrations on nearby flora and fauna), their environmental surroundings become more hostile and inhospitable as well.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The film takes place over a long weekend: starting on Friday afternoon and ending on late Monday afternoon.
- Gaia's Vengeance: The premise is that two Jerkasses go camping and act like jerks to nature. Nature then proceeds to give them what they've got coming.
- Genius Loci: One interpretation of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane events is that Lunda Beach is somehow sentient and responds to the emotions of those visiting it. It is perhaps significant that the locals have never heard of the place.
- Gilligan Cut: Peter tells Marcia to stop helping him pack and go for a walk. Marcia's emphatically says that she doesn't walk to go for a walk. The next shot is her and Cricket taking a walk on the beach.
- Going in Circles: When Peter and Marcia are trying find Lunda Beach, Marcia's tells him they are driving in circles, as they've passed the same tree multiple times. Later, when Peter is attempting to escape he beach, he stops to refill the car's tank and drops the empty fuel can by the side of the track. He drives off, but a few minutes later he finds himself driving past the bright orange fuel can.
- Groin Attack: Marcia delivers one to Peter when he tries to prevent her desperate rush to escape Lunda Beach.
- Horrible Camping Trip: Peter and Marcia undertake a camping trip in an attempt to patch up their failing marriage. Things go wrong right from the kick off, with Peter getting lost and Going in Circles for hours as he tries to find the campsite. But things really go haywire when their callous indifference towards nature, culminating in the shooting of a dugong, unleashes Gaia's Vengeance upon them. Neither survives the weekend.
- Kill It with Fire: Peter pours petrol over the dugong corpse he thinks is stalking him and sets fire to it. It is not clear if the dugong really is stalking him, or if this is just a delusion of his.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It is up for debate whether supernatural forces at Lunda Beach are responsible for the (ultimately fatal) adversities that Peter and Marcia are subjected to, or if a set of eerie coincidences simply converge with their poor judgment to make them meet an untimely end. Similarly, it is somewhat unclear whether the events toward the end of the film (such as the moving dugong corpse) are the product of their mad delusions or not, though the abandoned campsite and drowned woman they find would suggest that something really is amiss in the area.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Possibly. The movie is implied to be taking place on the Victorian coast (Marcia's desire to visit Eildon makes it unlikely to be anywhere else), but one of the animals seen in is a Tasmanian devil, which are not found on the Australian mainland. However, this may not be an error as Lunda Beach is implied to be not a normal location.
- Not Quite Saved Enough: Peter finally manages to escape from the bush after Going in Circles for ages. He makes it to the main road and starts to flag down an approaching truck. Then a cockatoo flies through the open window of the truck cab; getting in the truckie's face and causing him to swerve and run over Peter.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Peter's gun sins include testing the sight on on his rifle by aiming it at his unsuspecting wife; leaving a loaded speargun around, which goes off narrowly avoiding Marcia; drinking and shooting; firing at birds on the water (a good way to cause a ricochet); running down a sand dune carrying a loaded rifle; and firing randomly at nothing.
- Self-Offense: After Marcia drives off, Peter is forced to spend the night outdoors on the beach. Firing at all of the strange noises he hears in the darkness. Running out of bullets, he loads the speargun and sits clutching that. Hearing another noise, he fires the spear and noises cuts off. Come the morning light, he finds he has shot and killed Marcia who had crashed and was making her way back to the camp.
- Suicide by Sea: Marcia starts walking out into the sea fully clothed, but is grabbed by Peter and dragged back to the beach.