by Ryan Morrissey-Smith
Sequels are a tricky business, more so for horror films. The desire to create the same atmosphere that made the first film resonate with audiences would be a difficult task and besides that who wants to recover old ground? ...
With Wolf Creek 2 director Greg McLean must’ve thought this was the case as well and has made a film that completely different in tone, so different in fact that will throw some people off the ride. In the nine years since Wolf Creek, a lot has changed in the horror film world and McLean seems to both acknowledge this yet at the same time try to bring back the ‘good old days’.
Mick Taylor who was really the ‘boogeyman’ of the first film appearing on screen for the last 40 odd mins and sparingly, is now front and centre, his mystique and menace is broken, something which may destroy the entire film for a lot of people but I found it to be one of those 50/50 situations, yes Mick was far scarier when you didn’t know about him but spending time with Mick makes you start to suspect everyone who is a little bit off, his everyman/psycho cuts close to a lot of characters in Australia – sans the murdering of course.
Wolf Creek 2 has quite a few false climaxes and early on feels like it is painting itself into a corner. The storyline sees us meeting Mick early on, being victimised by a couple bored highway cops, needless to say this doesn’t end well for them and the brutality from the first film is well intact. From here we come across some backpackers (Shannon Ashlyn & Phillipe Klaus) who end up running afoul of Mick, in one of the most punishing scenes throughout film and in turn we meet Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Carr). From this point it’s a cat and mouse game with Mick hunting down Paul.
McLean clearly has established directing chops and Wolf Creek 2 is no exception. The film is framed beautifully a few scenes are reminiscent of old films, whether that is deliberate or not I don’t know. McLean uses the outback’s vastness to great degree making the isolation feeling as palpable as the first film. McLean also brings something else with him from the first Wolf Creek film – an unblinking camera, so when Wolf Creek 2 gets violent and does, it goes all out and simply put – it is brutal on every level.
The two main players Carr and Jarratt do a decent job here, with Jarratt getting the meaty role (no pun intended) and he has a lot to play with – perhaps too much. He almost drags Mick Taylor into a cartoonish villain territory and he teeters on this brink and occasionally falls into that category. Mick has far more chance to crack wise and he does with varying success, sometimes it is on point gallows humour, other times it is horribly forced. Carr works hard at being the final girl (or guy) and his scenes in Mick’s lair are both his, Jarratt’s and the films best.
As mentioned before the tonal shift will not sit well with some people and I can see a lot of hate being directed at this film. There are some parts of the film that could’ve been written better – McLean and writing partner Aaron Sterns – throw a lot at the screen, some of sticks and other parts - like the Kangaroo road cull which was totally unnecessary and felt like it was there because they had a CGI budget to fill. The subtle as a sledgehammer undercurrent in the film is that Mick is your typical ugly Australian – racist and xenophobic, like someone we’ve all known or known of and in the current climate maybe Mick Taylor mirrors (in an extreme way) more than few ideals and ideas being promoted by media outlets and politicians.
Wolf Creek 2 is certainly no re-run and its brave decision from McLean to go this way. Wolf Creek 2 isn’t a patch on the original film but it gets kudos for doing something outside of the box.
Image and trailer from Wolf Creek 2 websiteWolf Creek 2 is available from Amazon here:
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