Director: Greg Mclean
Starring: John Jarrett, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn and Phillipe Klaus
Running Time: 106 minutes
Every once in a while us horror fanatics find a gem of a fright film emerging from the most unlikely of places. In 2005 it was in the heart of the Australian Outback, where little known writer/director Greg Mclean would unleash the primal serial-killer Mick Taylor. The controversial WOLF CREEK was inspired, in part, by the ruthless crimes of bushwhacker Ivan Milat, as well as the infamous case of murdered Brit backpacker Peter Falconio by a drifter named Bradley Murdoch (although those who followed the cased will know Falconio’s girlfriend, Joanne Lees, was initially accused).
A haunting, stark and uncomfortable film to sit through, WOLF CREEK was also beautifully shot and emotionally engaging. Few genre films allow you to get to know and really care for lead characters, yet Mclean built this momentum perfectly before introducing his seemingly simple-minded psychopath (a chilling John Jarrett). Almost as if CROCODILE DUNDEE woke up on the wrong side of the bed and thought:“Fuck it, let’s kill a few people today!” Mclean’s sequel (this time co-written by Aaron Sterns) may lose that element of sadistic surprise of just who Mick is; or more significantly, what he’s truly capable of (“head on a stick,” anyone?), yet it’s still one hell of ride!
As stated, since we now know him so well, it’s pointless keeping Jarrett’s brutish boogeyman in the shadows. Right from the off Mclean’s intentions are clear: upping the ante! That slow-burning suspense is now replaced with full-on blood and guts greatness as we get reacquainted with the madman via a couple of cocky traffic cops – who really should have left well alone. Still it’s not worth losing your head over. Well, maybe for Mick it is as he makes an instant, explosive impact!
As barbaric as Mick Taylor’s actions are, it is again credit to Jarrett (and our guilt) that he makes our antagonist likeable. His wise-cracks are as sharp as the blade he wields, offering a perfect balance between funny and ferocious. His enjoyment “entertaining” a German couple (Ashlyn and Klaus) is rudely interrupted by “clever Pommie cunt” Paul (Corr). Taking it personal (as only he could for the foreigners pissing on his patch), Mick makes it his mission to make sure he dishes out the right punishment! We even learn a few new things about the human butcher. He sure does love a good sing-song, as well as a pop quiz. Although not “Shane fucking Warne”.
While WOLF CREEK 2 is undoubtably thrilling, it does lack the intensity of the original hit. That harrowing, helpless aspect traded in for more action-orientated and stomach-churning scares. A bizarre chase around the halfway point will have animal lovers up in arms (“Sorry Skippy”). By the way, that’s not a bad thing. WOLF CREEK is a difficult film to like for many reasons, yet taken as a whole it’s a masterclass in pure horror. Its sequel, coming some nine years later, is a much more pleasurable experience in the same way as the difference between Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and its crazed (and comedic) follow-up, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART II. It’s almost like Mclean has purposely taken that as his inspiration. Especially considering the finale’s catacomb-like location.
Whether you believe WOLF CREEK needed a sequel or not (personally, I loved the downbeat ending of the original after it brought home the realities of the factual case and that bad guys often escape), Mick’s back… and he’s having a blast! So will you!
WOLF CREEK 2 is available on VoD in the US now and limited theatres 16th May. A UK release is still being sought.