It’s not often that I get to be the ballsy, argue-in-the-face of my fellow critics type reviewer…but alas, here I am. And if words had hands, it would be “all up in their faces.” Roger Ebert stepped down from even giving it a rating stating that “Wolf Creek crossed a line in horror…” and could not elaborate about what that line was. US Today and The New York Times both gave it 2-out-of 5 stars of which I say, “Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person!” Childish I know, but that’s what they get for not seeing the genius in this film,… or at least recognizing its many merits such as: superb acting (especially from John Jarratt), cinematography, and make-up. But without further ado, here’s thy review.
As Halloween approaches I decided to dive into 3 horror movies, each of which I haven’t previously seen. After looking through a discount dvd bin at a local used bookstore, I came across this film with the words “based on true events”, which intrigued me, and a quote of “one of the great horror film heavies of the last 25 years” by quite possibly one of my favorite directors, Mr. Quentin Tarantino. A quick glance at the price-tag. 3 bucks. Sold.
Wolf Creek is the story of three young travelers who take off across the Australian outback. After hiking up to Wolf Creek National Park, they return to find their car is dead. Stranded in this desolate place causes the “fun times” to end “full stop”, that is, until Mick Taylor (played by John Jarratt) – a likable bloke – comes to their rescue. Quite the gobsmack to the trio when the aid-offering bushman has more sinister motives in mind.
Horror films, in my opinion, have no set rules. A film of this genre either frightens you with shock-value… a sudden attack on the senses, gore… lots of blood and guts, or it provides a level of eerie psychological undercurrent via lighting, editing, and music (among other things). This movie had all three.
The two greatest things about this movie was one – how the landscape of the Australian outback was more than just a setting for events to take place, as director Mclean utilizes the vast “gafa” (desert), vegetation, weather, and the darkness of a night in Oz to create a secondary and ever-looming menace. But the down-to-earth turn creepy psychopath, played by John Jarratt was by far, “the most top.” Actor and director molded the perfect villian by unifying the characteristics of the iconic and beloved Aussies, like Crocodile “Mick” Dundee (the name “Mick” being an obvious reference) and Steve Erwin, with the uniform (leather cowboy hat and red & black flannel shirt) and the lust for killy of Freddy Kreuger. John Jarratt gives a phenomenal performance (as does the the rest of the cast).
One of the brilliant moves of this film was its use of lighting effects. The film begins brightly with a sunny, vacation-style quality and turns darker and desaturated at times when things begin to take a turn for the worst. Even the unexpected event of it raining in the arid outback, the director turned into an opportunity. The rain was more than just an unexpected twist, it was a bad omen. It dampened the mood of the characters (what a lovely pun) and was more-or-less the starting point of things-gone-wrong. (The polar opposite of girls-gone-wild).
The movie lost points on two separate accounts. The first being a thoughtless mismanagement of time on the part of Cassandra Magrath’s character, Liz, when she tells Kristy to wait 5 minutes for her run back to Mick’s camp and find a car. The camp must have been, at the very least, half a mile or so… and even then… she would have had to run back to meet her if nothing could be found. Come on! Running for approximately a mile, searching for another vehicle/weapon/method of escape, and getting back to her in 5 minutes or less (even on an adrenaline high) is completely unreasonable. When she arrived on the scene from sprinting that distance, she should have been gasping and tired, but appeared only in a panicked state. Then, the movie immediately loses another claw by having her slowly comb through Mick’s camp while knowing full well that poor Kristy is all alone and waiting for her. Oh, I find some pictures. Oh, what is this video-camera? What’s on it? Let me see! La-dee-da! Meanwhile, Kristy is peeing in her pants and Liz is giving plenty of time for either one of them to get caught. There was one more sour point in that scene, a plot hole, that merits a deduction, but mentioning would spoil the scene. No worries, we’ll just let that one go!
Wolf Creek is the fair-dinkum… and gets 8 bear claws for producing a terror-fest that sent chills up my spine. I hadn’t felt this level of intensity since my first viewing of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As horror movies go, this one is at the top of my list…as terrifying as terrifying gets, and Bob’s your uncle! Wolf Creek is a magnificent choice for this years Halloween viewing and I would pick up a copy tout de suite! I will also go so far as to say BUY …don’t rent with this one! What did you guys think of the film?