Regularly throughout cinema history, the beautiful continent of Australia releases a genre movie that breaks all the rules. Wolf Creek boasts a range of stomach churning and psychologicals nasties, as it constantly coughs up another gut wrenching fear based on a bizarre but true story. With constant nods to legendary films such as Duel (1971) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) the debut writer/director Greg McLean shows worldwide goreheads how things can be done more effectively, with a unique stark style this isn’t braved much to gain audience figures elsewhere.
Liz (Cassandra Magrath) , Kristy (Kestie Morassi) and Ben (Nathan Phillips) are backpackers driving across a barren country to Wolf Creek, the site of a prehistoric meteorite strike, after a few days of getting personal with each other they find that their car has broken down and they are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Just before all hope is lost a knight in shining armor arrives, or at least a ballsy and loud bushman named Mick (John Jarratt) and offers them help but when that fails a place to stay while he fixes up their car, this initial meeting is both awkward and unnerving. Back at his remote shack in a confined works yard they eat and drink together then bed down for the night.
McLeans film shows a degree of intelligence by letting nothing gross or scary happen for around half an hour, instead we’re treated to an idealistic road trip with friends, almost forgetting the gruesomeness a romance blossoms between the Liz and Ben and the wide horizon and sweeping landscapes calm the viewer, and has an air of freedom which is quickly swept away after the ballsy Mick turns up and after all the introductions and smiles, soon ruins everyone’s day.
Mick quickly turns and starts showing his true colours, during the early hours Liz awakes to find her friends missing and there is loud screaming coming from the work shed, she soon realises the imminent danger she and her friends are in as Mick tortures and outwits them at every turn like a sadistic Crocodile Dundee on roid rage.
The films takes on a bizarre eeriness as this madman stalks the group but doesn’t turn into your average cat and mouse chase the mouse seems to be on a hot tin roof and going through a nervous breakdown. The film does take a while to build, and while it’s amazing on the first watch, I don’t find myself skipping the niceties at the beginning on the rewatch. The tension on the other hand doesn’t build it SNAPS into action and drags it’s audience kicking and screaming through the outback.
There isn’t much in the way of jump scares and overly dramatic music, this keeps the carnage raw and unforgiving. Definitely not something you’d want to see prior to embarking on any road trip in the wilderness as it’s based on “true events”.
R – Outback/ Wake in Fright (1971), Coffin Rock (2009), Duel (1971), Wolf Creek 2(2013),
L – Selected Australian Cinema, Selected Australian Horrors,
A – They Came from the land downunder.. Introduction to Australian Cinema.