Wolf Creek

Most of the films that come here from Australia are quirky comedies, so it's always nice to see something different. Wolf Creek definitely fits that bill. This is one of those horror films where hapless teens stumble upon somebody who seems to be a good Samaritan, but turns out to be quite the opposite. It's a pretty minimalistic effort from writer/director Greg McLean that is the same story, just on a different continent. English girls Kristy Earl (Kestie Morassi, Darkness Falls, Josh Jarman) and Liz Hunter (Cassandra Magrath) are on vacation in Australia where they meet Aussie Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips, Under the Radar, One Perfect Day) who decides to take them around.

McLean uses much of the first part of Wolf Creek to lull the audience into a sense of complacency. The trio has fun at the beach. They get drunk at a party, and do stupid things. Mitchell wants to take them out to Wolf Creek, the site of an ancient meteor crater. The ride is long, and begins to get pretty boring. This is exactly what McLean wants. The teens' guards are down, and they are annoyed that things are so boring. It begins to rain, making things annoying. Once they see the crater and return, the car won't start. Night falls, and out of nowhere, Mick Taylor (John Jarratt, Dead Heart, All Men Are Liars) appears and offers to fix their car.

Now, at this point, any sane human being would run the other way. Taylor looks a bit weird, and has an odder sense of humor. He can fix their car in the morning. It's cold, raining, and Earl, Hunter, and Mitchell have no other choice than to go with Taylor. But this is a movie, and these are stupid teenagers, so they fall asleep outside by a fire. Hunter wakes up the next morning to find herself in chains. Of course, Taylor is a raving psycho out to kill them. The tone changes dramatically, as McLean turns up the volume and the terror. It's an exhilarating ride for a while, but Wolf Creek soon descends into cliches.

There's an old-fashioned feel to the look and horror of the film; it looks like McLean was a huge fan of some of the slasher films from the 70s. Everything is dirtier, and the film seems a bit grainier. The violence gets pretty gruesome, serving as an effective contrast to the serenity of the beginning of the film. The rest of the film plays out as expected - the three teens try to escape the sadistic Taylor, who goes after them with shotguns and chainsaws. No matter what they do to him or how fast they escape, Taylor always manages to end up around them. McLean supposedly based the film on actual events, attempting to explain some of the many disappearances in the wilds of Australia. It's a gimmick that doesn't quite work, but that's okay, for a while, McLean manages to make Wolf Creek a pretty intense experience.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated R for strong gruesome violence, and for language.

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