Review: Wolf Creek Series Two
Directors: Greg McLean, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Geoff Bennett
Writers: Nick Parsons, Shanti Gudgeon, Mark Dapin, Greg Haddrick
Stars: John Jarratt, Elsa Cocquerel, Matt Day, Jason Chong, Charlie Clausen, Tess Haubrich, Stephen Hunter, Christopher Kirby, Josephine Langford, Ben Oxenbould, Adam Fiorentino, Laura Wheelwright, Julian Pulvermacher, Elijah Williams
In my review of the Wolf Creek series one, I stated that it didn't really have the carnage you expect from Wolf Creek, that there were too many side plots and that the writing was really up and down. Well, Wolf Creek series two addresses all of these issues and in the process becomes of the great horror TV seasons and is the best Wolf Creek story, yes its better than the original film and the sequel.
The series has six episodes like series 1, all running around the 50 minute mark. The setup is that a bus load of tourists wanting to experience the outback run into Mick Taylor and their vacation turns into a battle for survival. The tourists range from a blogger, psychologist, unrequited loves, couples in love, couples on the rocks, an annoying loner and a family. The series takes its time getting to know these tourists, some of the characters are underdeveloped but its not a big issue especially when the cast is so big, you can't get to the meat of every single persons backstory. Mick Taylor of course needs no further development as a straight out villain but we do get a little hint into his past.
Like every trip into the outback of Australia in the Wolf Creek franchise, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, colourful skies and long flat open stretches of red dirt, make up just some of the colour palate. In fact I'd say that this is one of the more natural and vibrant horror properties I've seen. There are no muted colours in the day time and no so dark you can't see it scenes at night, it just presents the horror in the harsh light of day or night as it happens and it is all the better for it.
The writing this time around is much tighter. Being in an expansive setting that the characters could literally walk for days and be no better off, it builds blocks of despair and misery that really feels like the walls are closing in and with the ever present threat of Mick Taylor showing up at any time, it keeps you on edge. The story is very insular, character driven spending time with most of the characters and their respective fight for survival but when Mick Taylor shows up anytime in the series, you have an immediate and impending sense of doom. As the audience, you know what Mick is capable of and at times that lambs to the slaughter feeling is so palpable that is overwhelming. The writers have paired back Mick's overly jokey turn in Wolf Creek 2 and the first series and made him not a one note grim spectre because there are some still fun moments but a far more formidable and dare I say scary villain, something which not a lot of horror franchises can do - make their known boogeyman scarier or just as scary the first time you saw them.
The acting in the series is just outstanding. You buy every character, every interaction and it is all just so organic. The two characters that you really get to spend some time with are Michelle (Cocquerel)and Brain (Day) and holy shit do these two kill it. Day, (a veteran Australian actor) is particularly fantastic. These are such great performances that along with Jarratt, they push this series to great heights. The fact that you care about almost every one of the unfortunate characters caught up in this nightmare is both testament to the acting and the writing, its the cornerstone of any good horror film/series to have relatable characters and it is where Wolf Creek series two excels. Even when Wolf Creek dabbles with an indigenous medicine man, bringing Mick into the supernatural realm and they treat him like an evil spirit that roams the outback, it totally works.
One thing you do and should expect from Wolf Creek is as Randy in Scream 2 puts it 'Carnage Candy' and damn does this deliver. Mick is lethal with just about anything, gun, knife and even a fork, every punishing moment on screen is brutal, so whilst the first series felt a bit light on in that respect, series two really ups the ante.
Wolf Creek series two is outstanding, there are no filler episodes, it is just a hard, down and dirty stalk and kill slasher. A killer (not pun intended) Wolf Creek story with a touch of The Hills Have Eyes and Road Games. Whenever you get the chance to see this, do it. You won't see a horror TV series better than this in 2018.
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78