Wolf Creek 2 (2014)

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Director: Greg Mclean

Writer: Greg Mclean, Aaron Sterns

Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn

Rating: ★★½

Wolf Creek 2 is the sequel to the disappointing and amazingly dull Australian horror of 2005 Wolf Creek, which is another exhausting horror in which we see the predictable become even more predictable. Unfortunately I can’t say that Wolf Creek 2 takes a whole different approach, however it is slightly better, despite a problematic story for more than a few reasons, it provides gore, horror and a few thrills; taking the one positive from its original and focusing purely on replicating it.

Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) is still roaming the Australian outback with his hunting knife and sniper, chasing down tourists making it an unsafe place, and one to be feared. After setting his sights on a German couple which he soon captures, he is then interrupted by Paul (Ryan Corr), an English tourist who when driving down the highway stops and picks up a blood covered and fearful woman (Shannon Ashlyn). Mick Taylor chases the “pommy” around the outback, destroying his car, invading his hideout before eventually being one on one within his torture house, but will Mick Taylor lose out on another kill once more.

The most successful thing about Wolf Creek for me was Mick Taylor and it was a positive to see director and writer Greg Mclean spotting this and wanting to develop his outback slasher into a bigger and better sequel. However there is a huge problem, not only does this lead into a slightly repetitive and predictable storyline, but it creates an issue with the films message along with who the audience should be identifying with. The first half of Wolf Creek 2 is something which censorships would probably be worried about, as Mick Taylor kills of a few police officers, who were in retrospect being a little bit mean and harsh, he has a little “pig hunting” catchphrase producing laughs, and therefore making the audience side with him. His first victims then speak German, making them completely un-relatable to us as an audience whilst once again Mick cracks out his book of jokes; it takes far too long before Paul to appear for the audience to then realise that we should be classing him as the protagonist, instead of Mick Taylor. Now this shouldn’t really be an issue in terms of entertainment, but something which caught my eye as slightly risky writing by Mclean and Sterns.

Wolf Creek 2 as previously mentioned is very predictable, however to cover-up this flaw, as much action as possible is crammed in to make it both thrilling and entertaining. In comparison to the original much more deaths occur and this time round they become much more extreme and gore-like, with bullets to the head and knives slitting throats. The chase between Paul and Mick is a real highlight and does provide some thrills with some fast-paced scenes, something Wolf Creek lacked. As Paul finds himself in Mick’s torcher den we see a host of dead guests, some still barely breathing and whimpering, and some cold, stuffed and made to act out scenarios, making Mick Taylor look like the sick sadistic serial-killer he told us he was within the original.

John Jarratt’s portrayal of Mick Taylor is brilliant, his sniggering laughs and jokes are all very fun, although a problem of course, it does make for both a very creepy, but fun character. His performance was typified in the tortures scenes, as he quizzes his victim, reveals his intentions and whilst slashing and stabbing remains cool, calm and keeps on laughing. Ryan Corr is likewise good, practically unknown he handles his role well and gives off a reasonable performance.

McLean’s direction isn’t anything special, the way he chose to shoot the death scenes for the police were a nice touch and a highlight. However Wolf Creek 2 did shine through its use of special effects and make-up with a lot of work obviously going into creating a host of dead bodies, guts and gore.

Wolf Creek 2 isn’t anything great but is a slight improvement on its prequel. The horror manages to capture what it set out to, and that’s a gore-filled, thrilling experience focusing on a fun but deluded outback killer. However it doesn’t create anything new, exciting or unique with everything being seen and done a thousand times before, creating for me a very predictable and average watch. Wolf Creek 2 should be avoided if possible, but the experience of watching Mick Taylor might just make it slightly worth-while.

 

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Wolf Creek (2005)

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Director: Greg Mclean

Writer: Greg Mclean

Starring: Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips

Rating: ★★

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.