Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek

Directed by: Greg McLean, Australia, 2005

Horror / Thriller, 99min
Distributed by: Scandbox Entertainment Sweden AB

Liz [Cassandra Maggrath] and Kristy[Kestie Earl], two English women are on holiday in Australia where they have met up with native lad Ben [Nathan Phillips]. Together the threesome is on the last leg of their vacation exploring the wide outback and legendary views of Australia. After a scary run in with the locals in a small village they find themselves stranded in the middle of the outback when their car fails to start. That’s when the charismatic handyman Mick [Josh Jarratt] arrives to help them out of their troubles… Or does he have other plans for the youths?

OK, claiming to be the scariest movie in 25 years is a pretty bold statement for a fairly average horror movie. Don’t get me wrong the movie is effective. It’s dark, grim, evil and some what disturbing, but the Quentin Tarantino quote on the cover claiming it to be “one of the scariest movies in 25 years”? Come on, the magic words “last wild party before the journey home” already tells genre fans that the shit is going to hit the fan pretty soon. McLean successfully manages to get me engaged in the lead characters through, especially Liz. The love story tension between Liz and Ben works, and the scene where there tension turns to reality is very well played, and is probably one of the best ever put on screen in this genre. It feels authentic and adds to the development of Liz’s character in a very positive way, her uncertainty and way she timidly approaches Ben feels honest and familiar to most of the audience who have ever been in those early stages of a relationship. Unfortunately I just can’t awake any feelings at all for Nathan Phillips Ben character.
I can’t explain why, I just don’t like him. The same for Kristy, you never really get to know her so I don’t really care when she’s being tormented, but the lead character shift that comes at the later half of the movie almost manages to make up for this. I know that someone will survive we know how to interpret the codes from watching thirty year old movies like Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 and The Hills have Eyes 1977 which also state to be based on true events. Wolf Creek is a wonderfully looking move. The style and way it is shot is fine and works great for the movie. It’s a decently acted movie and there are parts of it which are very effective, like the earlier mentioned first kiss scene, the panic that they get into as something approaches them in the dark when their car is stalled, the way Liz is embarrassed by the way Ben and Kristy make fun of Mick after he has rescued them from their malfunctioning car, the realisation of Mick’s magnitude of murders and when Liz watches the camcorder playback and sees Mick in the background, it’s all good stuff.. Script wise there’s not much to complain about, I won’t go into logical stuff, I can buy the fact that Liz dumps her escape car over a cliff to confuse Mick, I can accept that she might have returned to Mick’s hideout steal a second car, but don’t ever put the killer in back seat of the first car she tries out. That’s just insulting to me. There is Crocodile Dundee joke which is hilarious the first time it is creudely played out, and the scene where Mick later repeats it to Liz is brilliant as you definately won’t want to laugh at it this time.

The violence is effective, but this is where my problem with the movie gets started. The attempt to shock us by having the lead character suddenly is the first to die a violent death has been done so many times that it’s just not effective anymore. Just like Eli Roth’s Hostel 2005 the lead character’s shock death is somewhat played down. Two fast edits and the scene is over, almost as if the director wants to let his leads off easily. But come on, when Mick tells Liz that he’s going to make her a “head on a stick” as he severs her spine, I know that her time is up, and it’s not shocking to me or other fans of the genre at all. Ok I do admit to being more engaged in Liz’s fate than the others as her character has the best evolution in the movie from quiet and passive to loud and aggressive, I’m sort of saddened that Liz doesn’t make it out and it is a nasty scene, but I’ve seen this kind of stuff too many times to be affected by it. If Mick had pulled out her spinal cord and beat one of the others to death with her head still attached to her spine, now that would have shocked me. That would have been going too far even I would have reacted to that and then it would have had an impact. Then there’s the quick fix at the end. Ben just gets up and goes… I can’t help but feel that something is missing here; there must have been a better way to end this movie than like this. A few fast scenes and then a text ending letting us know that Ben was the police's prime suspect before cutting to a stupid fade-away of Mick walking into the sunset... cheesy to say the least. Nope, I was hoping for so much more from this movie, and can’t help feeling disappointed after watching it. I can appreciate what McLean has set out to do and with his budget restrictions, tight shooting schedule and all, but please stop insulting us by trying to revitalise the genre with the oldest tricks in the book. If you want to play rough, have the balls to play it rougher than the others.

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Like I mentioned earlier, the movie looks great. Wonderful colours, great camera work and amazing landscapes. This edition has removable subtitles in Swedish Danish, Norwegian and Finnish.


Two soundtrack options are available, dts 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1


This double disc edition has a lot of extras that are interesting and informative enough to keep me watching them. Disc #1 has a commentary track with director McLean, co-producer Matt Hearn, and lead actresses Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi. A bunch of sneak peek trailers of movies outside the horror genre including a fucking Steven Segal movie, and three completely unrelated and annoying cinema trailers for Bruce Willis actioneer 16Blocks, football comedy She’s the man and Robert Altman’s Prairie Home Companion making me wonder who the hell the target audience for this double disc edition is? Finally there is the original trailer for Wolf Creek. Disc #2 has The Making of Wolf Creek, a fifty minute documentary about the production. Meet Mick Tayler, a twenty-one minute interview with Josh Jarrett about his character and three deleted scenes.

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