Film Review - Wolf Creek 2
Jozef Hamilton wonders if the sequel would be as good as the original...
I think it’s safe to say in our modern age with social media, YouTube and just general daily internet news articles, is that Australia has to be both the most awesome country on the face of the planet as well being the most utterly insane country on the face of the planet. I mean that in the most respectful way possible of course. In 2005, it produced one of the finest (in my opinion) independent horror films that we had seen in years and one that still continues to impress nearly a decade later, ‘Wolf Creek’.
So naturally, when a sequel was announced a short time ago, I was pretty damn excited for it. The original delivered a viscerally brutal film that was very much grounded in realism, while providing us a new contemporary villain that could easily match up with the greats of the genre. John Jarratt delivered an incredible and icon-worthy performance as crazed serial killer Mick Taylor, delivering charisma without losing any sense of intimidation. If you can’t tell already; I pretty much have a major boner for this film. Onto the sequel!
After a short opening sequence reintroducing us of our antagonist, the plot revolves around two German tourists, Rutger and Katarina (Phillipe Klaus and Shannon Ashlyn) who, like the previous victims in the original, are making their way through the Australian outback to visit the famous Wolfe Creek Crater, a popular sight amongst tourists. Setting up camp nearby, Mick Taylor spots their tent in the middle of the night and approaches it, offering them a ride because according to him, camping in a national park could get them charged. When the tourists are suspicious of his intent, Mick loses his temper and attacks them, graphically decapitating Rutger with his hunting knife before knocking out Katarina. She awakens shortly after to find Mick gruesomely dismembering Rutger’s body, before taking the opportunity to sneak away, trying to find help on the highway. A British surfer named Paul (Ryan Corr) is driving down the highway when he comes across a hysterical Katarina, helping her into his jeep just as Mick finds them both and gives chase. The rest of the story plays out as a game of cat and mouse with plenty of corpses and one-liners on the way.
|Hitchhiking in a horror film? What could possibly go wrong?|
Although it doesn’t quite match up to its predecessor, it’s still a very enjoyable horror film with both tense moments and interestingly enough, black humour laced sequences. I think that ‘Wolf Creek 2’ is very, very similar to ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’ for a number of reasons, a few of them are visual so obviously I won’t go into depth, but they involved corpse decoration and an underground labyrinth. The director of both, Greg McLean, obviously knows how the horror system works. Great first entries usually overshadow their subsequent sequels unless they find a way to stand out.
Bringing back the relation to ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’, the dark humour sequences are very well done and flat out hysterical in parts, especially one sequence involving a pack of Kangaroos.
A main theme within the film is the tension between the British protagonist and the Australian antagonist; however, there is an aspect of unity here because the type of dark humour that is displayed on-screen shows that they are very similar between both cultures.
Jarratt gives yet another stellar performance, it’s almost scary how comfortably he seems to slip into the role of a complete psychopath, if you loved him in ‘Wolf Creek’ then you know exactly what to expect within the sequel, there’s not really much I can expand on that, maybe just the fact he adds a more sick sense of humour within the character which shines through. Ryan Corr gives a great performance as ‘the hunted’, I was honestly surprised how good the chemistry between himself and Jarratt was as the film progressed, it’s a lot higher than your standard of how a victim should act within a horror film. I gave a crap if he lived or died, so that really says it all, it’s not a case of waiting for the lamb to go to the slaughter, you want to see him escape, especially after the hell he endures.
One thing I particularly love about the ‘Wolf Creek’ franchise (I guess we can call it that now?) is that it doesn’t just rely on the ‘final girl’ aspect that horror is particularly famous for, it makes its male characters very vulnerable and not just a plot device to add more character development for the aforementioned ‘final girl’. Unfortunately the character development isn’t quite as strong for our victims as it is in the original, bar Paul who gets a great amount through the situations he’s put throughout the plot and through dialogue at the final act of the film. Both lead males really sell their roles and it’s an interesting aspect to have a male hunt a male within a contemporary horror film.
|I see you've played knifey spoony before.|
One particularly interesting aspect that this sequel offers is the sense of social satire it has towards xenophobic idealism that many (insane) people have. However, this does give Mick a motive to his actions which I feel sort of strips some of the mystery away from his character, personally, I’m a much bigger fan of but at least this motive actually makes sense compared to other horror villains *cough Jigsaw’s apprentices cough*. The idea of immigration and tourism plays a heavy role within the plot and is the subject of more than a couple of lines of dialogue and subtext. The ‘diluted serial killer’ effect, as I like to call it, is when a killer in a horror film becomes so identifiable and marketable to an audience, that they lose all the power that they gained from being an imposing, evil force. We’ve seen it happen numerous times and continue to do so, although part of it does appear here, particularly within the opening, whenever this happens we are quickly reminded that Mick is a rapist, a torturer and a murder, something which I very much appreciated from McLean’s part.
The cinematography is absolutely stunning, we are treated to wide shots of wide open outback locations (shot on scene, by the way), barely any shots of civilisation itself outside of a few establishing shots when we are introduced to our German tourists which highlight how utterly hopeless and alone they are in their situation. Rich yellows and oranges showcase beautiful exteriors while dank browns and blues showcase dank and dreading interior locations and night shots. ‘WolfCreek 2’ is worth a watch on the cinematography alone.
However, no film is perfect, I do feel that some instances of dark humour went wayyyyyy over the top in some parts and just seemed silly in places, one particular gripe is Mick’s lair being decorated with various human corpses strung up around the place like it was a haunted house from a Universal Studios attraction, having an entire area filled with the belongings of families, tourists and friends would’ve been a much more subtle and effective way of showing how evil he truly is.
In the end run, ‘Wolf Creek 2’ is truly a sequel that delivers and now one of my favourite horror sequels ever. It does everything right that you would want from a sequel, adds to the mythology, doesn’t take anything away and most importantly, gives us a set of survivors that we actually care about, there’s nothing worse than just waiting for the protagonist(s) to be offed off as quickly as possible. I highly recommend both films if you haven’t seen either of them and let’s hope it won’t take another eight or ten years before we visit the outback once again.
‘Wolf Creek 2’ is now available on VOD and has a limited theatrical release as of May 16th
- Jozef Hamilton
Images supplied by author
Wolf Creek 2 is available from Amazon here: