Genre: Horror, Thriller
Director: Greg Mclean
Writer: Greg Mclean
Starring: Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips
Wolf Creek is a film I wanted to watch before viewing it’s eye-catching and somewhat talked about sequel, Wolf Creek 2. The original however also grabbed some headlines and was the topic of discussion when the horror was released, being labelled “disturbing”, “visually-grotesque” and being the only film that the great Roger Ebert walked out on due to its violence. Although it may have been a new take on the genre nearly a decade ago upon release, I feel Wolf Creek despite some elements of promise, isn’t anything new and for me a very disappointing, dull attempt at horror that we’ve seen far too many times.
Three back-packing friends set out on a journey to the National Park in the Australian Outback to view one of the most scenic craters, Wolf Creek. Kirsty, Liz and Ben (Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips) decide to mix their hiking journey with some partying, drink and fun but as they set out on the real outback they soon realise everyone and everything is a little more hostile. As they arrive at their destination and witness the Wolf Creek Crater they find that whilst they were gone their car has mysteriously broken down by bad luck, leaving them completely stranded as night approaches. The trio think they’ve then been rescued by local Bushman Mick Taylor, but the stereotypical outback man seems suspicious and unnerving soon unleashing some bad luck of his own onto the tourist’s backpackers as their night turns into something they couldn’t have imagined.
It is the archetypal set-up for any horror film, three young tourists, unaware of their surroundings unfortunately meet the local serial killer and sadist. In true generic narrative style we also get to meet our characters however writer and director Greg Mclean chooses to dwell on this for far too long and around half the total screening time. Our characters are fairly average, and for some reason the amount of sympathy and connection created is very low, somewhat failing at making the more horror-like scenes worst to watch. It was however innovative to a degree that the dialogue to the trio’s conversations was very natural and realistic, but I felt this made it dull, despite the memorable lines; “Hey Ben you got something dripping from your mouth, oh wait its bullshit” as the jokes and fun play out. It takes a long time for action and gore to appear or for any real progress into our plot; when the main action does arrive I feel that due to the over-played anticipation there is no surprise or shock but an expectance and a feel of “oh finally”.
There’s nothing too horrifying or thrilling within Wolf Creek for me, with no real scares or jumps but more visual gore being used which is still very tame in comparison to other horror releases. One of the taglines for the film is “The Thrill is the Hunt” but for me there is not much of a hunt or much of a thrill throughout the film. I also found a real annoyance at some of the “plot devices”, which were obviously visible in stopping the film in ending despite being completely unrealistic despite the hyper-real context.
The acting was fairly average, however I must praise how the on-screen relationship and overall friendly-like feel between our trio of main characters was believable and looked more natural than what is seen in other films. As a standout however, I was impressed by our villain and outback bushman Mick Taylor, John Jarratt’s portrayal was very nice, creating a somewhat malicious and chilling atmosphere at moments. Although I have criticised Mclean’s writing, his directing was impressive, the film used a handheld camera which created the classic amateur documentary feel, adding to realism also making it feel like we’re witnessing these events. The film also had a few nice shots; especially the silhouettes of Mick Taylor approaching with his stereotypical hat creating a huge shadow and when our character Liz is witnessing her friend undergo torture.
Wolf Creek is something you’ll see time and time again, however taking on a somewhat new setting off the Australian outback. There were some positives with some good dialogue and a realistic-feel however the lack of progress and a very slow paced and un-shocking story creates a huge downfall. The horror and thrills were missing and that’s a huge loss considering the genre, I felt despite his great direction, Mclean created some sloppy writing. This isn’t a must-watch and its nor entertaining or enjoyable, I can only hope that for once, a sequel will outperform it’s original with Wolf Creek 2, but the standard hasn’t been set too high.