With the anticipated sequel soon to hit theaters and VOD near you (and after my intrepid Editor’s glowing review of it), an epiphany struck me: my, this is a golden excuse for me to revisit the rugged Outback world of the original Wolf Creek, no?
Liz and Kristy are a couple of British girls on holiday in Australia. They and their local friend, Ben, are traveling about from party to party, eventually planning to end up in Darwin, but with all intent to hit a spot of interest on the way; the Wolf Creek Crater. We move along with them; stopping for gas, parlaying with locals, watching the scenery of the Outback go by, etc., until they reach the park. They spend the day hiking the impressive (and beautifully shot) natural wonder, but when they finally return to their car, the damned thing won’t start. Not enjoying the prospect of being stranded literally in the middle of nowhere, our trio bed down in the car for the night, expecting to head out on foot in the morning. From out of the darkness comes an old, beaten truck, and an imposing but affable Aussie, introducing himself as Mick, stops to offer assistance. Won over by his charm and the promise of a quick (and free) fix to the vehicle, they allow him to tow them to his camp where he can carry out the repairs. They chat with him a bit around his fire, enjoying the fresh water he offers them, then fall deeply asleep as he begins his work…
…the work, in this case, wasn’t on their car. There was a bit more than “rainwater” in what they were drinking, and their lives, however brief, will never be the same. What follows is a brutal, sadistic, and frighteningly realistic nightmare of being held at the mercy of a madman; and absolutely no one is safe.
I’ve heard the inevitable bitching and complaining about the film’s slow start; it is a good long bit into the film before we even meet the villain, much less see anything really sinister happen. Personally, I feel this was integral to the plot as a whole. When we finally do witness the well-acted and horrifically displayed cruelties and savagery, we see it happen to people that we feel some sort of connection to, someone we’ve gotten involved with, come to care about. Without the establishment of this rapport, the victims are just fodder; grist for the mill, as it were. How many of you remember the name (or even really what she looked like) of the character that got her face smashed through the side of the RV in Jason Lives? Yeah…me neither. * There’s not as much gore as you may think, but it’s still got it’s deliciously gruesome moments that can be hard to watch; I salute the actors for some of the most harrowing, gut-wrenching moments I’ve had the pleasure of watching in a horror film.
The film begins as a road trip movie and transforms into a tangled cluster of dark tension and despair; the two halves are almost polar opposites, the bright daylit times of smiles and innocence giving way to the dark, rainy world of hatred, fear, and death. Mclean handles this well; you can feel the film’s gears shift precisely when he wants you to; the terror springs from the familiar suddenly becoming sinister. He deftly peppers the story with incidents and minute details that perpetuate the building dread. The performances of the actors were top notch; I really cared about the characters. It’s not often I find myself on the edge of my seat, cheering on a protagonist in a horror film quite like this. Admittedly, there are a couple of decisions made by the characters that can only be called having a tremendous attack of the dumbass, but as I’ve said before, if everyone always made the smart choices, there’d be very few horror movies.
Finally, we have John Jarratt as the jolly Mick Taylor. Comes outta the gate with an aw shucks local bumpkin groove, lulls you into his confidence, then the veneer falls away and we see the face of the Monster; psychosis is not often played this well, folks. We’re not talking split-personalities; no, this is pure sociopathic evil here. Jarratt plays this bastard to the hilt; fearless and spirited. I’ve not been so impressed with a bad guy since Hopkins’s first shot at Hannibal Lecter. The long, menacing stares and slight facial tics…the performance was a career-maker.
All in all, the movie is a marvelous addition to the genre; it breaks the typical psycho/slasher mold and manages not to fall into cheap torture-porn. Like any film, it has some weaknesses; but they’re definitely outweighed by its strengths.
Recommended if you’ve not seen it; not a bad idea even if you have.
*(Before ya start typin’ yer nasty grams, I am a huge fan of the F13 films; I’m just illustrating what makes Wolf Creek stand out from the standard slasher…ya big meannies. ;))
Checkout our WOLF CREEK 2 review here http://leglesscorpse.us/wolf-creek-2-review
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