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Wolf Creek - Preview

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 Outback.

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 Creek.

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.

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