Preview by: Jack Foley
THE real-life disappearance of tourists in the Australian Outback
provides the 'inspiration' for low-budget horror film, Wolf Creek,
which looks set to be among the biggest talking points of this
year's Sundance Film Festival.
Such is the word of mouth surrounding the project, that it has
already been snapped up by a US distributor even before it receives
its world premiere at the Utah event.
Written and directed by Australian Greg McLean, Wolf Creek chronicles
the fortunes of three backpackers as they travel in the remote
Things take a turn for the macabre, however, when they inadvertently
accept help from a local who quickly turns out to be a psychopath.
The film sounds like an Australian variation on the well-trodden
likes of The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, and has already been credited with being as potentially
genre-defining for Australian cinema as Tobe Hooper's classic
was for American horror.
What's really got tongues wagging, however, is the fact that
its inspiration comes from real-life events - most notably the
disappearance of British backpacker, Peter Falconio, and the well-documented
crimes of serial killer, Ivan Milat.
Mr Falconio, 28, vanished without trace after being ambushed
near Alice Springs in 2001, while Milat remains one of Australia's
most notorious serial killers, after admitting to the murder of
seven backpackers in New South Wales between 1992 and 1993.
Director, McClean, has been reported
as saying both crimes provided part of the inspiration for Wolf
But speaking to the BBC ahead of the Sundance event, the film's
producer, David Lightfoot denied that it was that specific.
"Greg wrote the original script years ago," he explained.
"He just got to thinking about the number of people who have
gone missing in the Outback over the years and what must have
happened to them.
"I think the Falconio case has left a nasty taste in the
mouths of people in this country, but we were already well involved
in the film during the time he went missing."
Rather like past Sundance hits, such as The Blair Witch Project
and last year's Open Water,
the film was shot on a relatively shoe-string budget (£570,000)
but is expected to become a global box office hit.
Advance screenings have already earned it a certain amount of
notoriety for being graphically violent, with Mr Lightfoot informing
the BBC that a couple of viewers had fainted at one advance screening.
The producer himself admits to finding it difficult to watch,
but maintains the film's biggest strength lay in its jolting realism
and powerful psychological punch.
It will be competing in the World Cinema Competition at Sundance,
the festival renowned for providing a showcase for the finest
independent cinema in any year, as well as some of the hottest
new filmmaking talent.