Wolf Creek - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary From Director Greg McLean, producer Matt Hearn and cast members Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi; Meet Mick Taylor – an interview with John Jarratt; Behind The Scenes footage; Trailers; TV Spots.
WOLF Creek begins with the startling statistic that approximately 30,000 people disappear every year in Australia. Of that total, 90% are found after about a month, while the remaining 10% are never seen again.
The ensuing tale, we are told, is based in fact and includes an epilogue regarding the fate of one of the characters.
What goes on in between is truly terrifying – although not always for the right reasons.
Greg McLean’s film begins well, taking time to get to know the characters, while building that sense of impending fear and isolation that is so key to a successful horror movie.
It then takes a detour into grim territory during which it sadly becomes another nasty and exploitational slasher flick that seems to take a worryingly perverse delight in sadism.
The film focuses on a trio of backpackers, comprised of two English tourists, Kristy (Kestie Morassi) and Liz (Cassandra Magrath), and their new-found Australian guide, Ben (Nathan Phillips).
At first, they are enjoying the coastal experience – drinking and partying the night away – before heading into the Australian Outback on a road trip that includes a stop at Wolf Creek – a meteor crater in Western Australia famous for being the second largest known impact crater on land on the earth.
It is here that their troubles begin. Having spent the day at the crater, they return to their car to find that it’s completely dead and are forced to camp overnight in the hope of being rescued.
Help appears to be at hand in the form of a grizzled but jovial Aussie named Mick (John Jarratt), who says he can fix the vehicle if the trio allow him to tow them to his home.
But once there, however, the terror begins as Mick isn’t the man he first seemed but rather a killer who delights in teasing his victims and prolonging their deaths for his own warped pleasures.
Die-hard horror fans will probably revel in what follows but more discerning viewers are likely to be appalled – and rightly so.
By the film’s own admission, it is impossible to know the fate of several characters, so the subsequent account – graphically told – is purely the imagination of the director.
It makes the extreme violence perpetrated against the women all the more objectionable and totally gratuitous.
Had McLean opted for a more psychological approach, perhaps, his movie may have been more effective and more memorable, yet by resorting to tired genre devices he cheapens the impact of proceedings and loses the audiences’ respect.
Morassi and Magrath act scared and scream a lot, but they also become reduced to stereotype, opting to fall into the same stupid traps that befall many a Hollywood horror victim.
While Jarratt’s killer fails to cut a credible figure in spite of his capacity for cruelty – he is, deliberately, a sort of demented Mick Dundee.
It’s a shame given that Wolf Creek begins so well and includes some fascinating cinematography that nicely contrasts the staggering beauty of the Australian Outback with man’s capacity for ugly brutality.
Once the blood-letting starts, however, McLean’s movie finds itself trapped in its own creek without any paddle.
Watch the trailer: