Title: Wolf Creek
Release Date: 2005, available on DVD 4/11/06
Stars: John Jarrat (Mick Taylor), Nathan Phillips (Ben Mitchell), Cassandra Magrath (Liz Hunter), Kestie Morassi (Kristy Earl)
Director: Greg Mclean
MPAA Rating: R
Rating for: Strong gruesome violence and language
Runtime: 1 hour 38 minutes
Three back packers go on an extended road trip to a remote crater in Western Australia. At their destination, their newly bought car will not start and they become stranded. A seemingly kind bushman, Mick Taylor (John Jarrat) happens along and offers to assist them; however he has to tow them back to his camp, which is a bit of a drive. It turns out to be better than a two hour drive and his camp is an abandoned mining operation.
A tension filled conversation is followed by would be vacationers taking well deserved naps, while Mick fixes their car. One of the Hikers, Liz Hunter, wakes up bound and locked in a shed. She escapes only to find her girlfriend, Kristy Earl (Kestie Morassi), tied to a pole and being tortured by Mick. Examples of previous victims hang on the wall in different states of decay only add to Liz’s fear, as well as the general macabre of the scene. Liz creates a diversion and rescues Kristy only to be followed by Mick and forced back to the camp to find a car for escape. The finale is fraught with twists and tension filled close calls as the girls continue their attempt to escape the clutches of the bent minded Mick.
Three back packers on a road trip is too much like five college kids in a cabin, it’s more of a thriller with gore. It starts out slow over emphasizing the carefree and cautionless actions of young people. Some of the scenes are unnecessary; Ben, getting the car checked out by a mechanic bogs the film down. The story almost comes to a dead stop, but beautiful panoramic shots of the crater, which is a real tourist attraction in Australia, holds your attention until Mick (the Dundee style serial murderer) arrives and the film really wakes up, halting any thoughts of additional buckets of popcorn.
Mick’s lunacy and mysterious motivations almost sell the movie at this point, but it’s really only held together by the idea that this was a “true story.” Scenes in the luggage shack were much too borrowed from Texas Chainsaw Massacre; although I can only assume that similar circumstances would apply to serial murderers doing their work in remote locations. The writing is a bit clunky, but the actors do a marvelous job at making it feel real and the director reveals his product better through the camera than the writer does on the page.
Wolf Creek is not a total loss, just an average horror movie with a “based on a true story” kick. I do, however, put this in a different category than the plethora of digital horror movies spilling out of Hollywood these days. Good tension, good acting, and believable gore make this a shrug your shoulders rent or purchase. The idea of a Mick Taylor is more disturbing than the actual film, but you need to see it to judge for yourself. Happy hunting.
Hit or No Hit: Coach Mike gives this a single, potentially reaching second on an error, but if the right fielder has a good arm you’re cooked.