Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek film of 2005 divided critics, many turned off by its unflinching violence and what was considered gratuitous abuse of women. Horror fans, meanwhile, lapped it up, this heady combination of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes too brazenly brutal to not love, Mick Taylor too memorable a villain in his deranged campiness. Impressive for what was only McLean’s feature debut, and, as well as the inevitable sequel, the filmmaker went on to pen two novels on Mick’s backstory. This curiosity in his creation now spawns Wolf Creek the series.
Recognising the need for a more rounded story — although many viewers would delight in six episodes of Mick enjoying some all-out torture, I’m sure — the series is a different creature from its parents, more an exploration of the world Mick inhabits as opposed to loosely threaded, violent vignettes (do not fret; they occur). Indeed the sense of landscape as character in itself is instantly striking; the sheer expanse of the Australian outback is frequently captured through loving long shots, while a choice of fairly garish palette exacerbates the presence of danger. It’s a danger that wastes no time in making itself known to Eve, a young American tourist whose family is slaughtered by Mick at their campsite.
The resultant cat-and-mouse affair as the pair simultaneously seek each other out is a given, however there is more to Wolf Creek than the deceptively simplistic opening episode implies. A significant driving factor to the story is the threat men as a whole pose for Eve; the majority of males she encounters are sexual predators. It’s an unsettling counterbalance to Mick’s cartoonish persona, and provides a realistic backdrop on which to develop Eve’s character, which subtly and consistently changes through the runtime.
The overall effect is addictive, complemented in no small part by some excellent performances. Lucy Fry is believable as our protagonist, her initial fear and vulnerability giving way to a defiant confidence that grows naturally, while John Jarratt, reprising his role as Mick, appears to take no less pleasure in chewing the scenery. Wolf Creek comes highly recommended.
DVD & BLU-RAY
10 October 2016