Wolf Creek (2005)
Australia (dir. Greg Mclean)
Cast: Andy McPhee, Cassandra Magrath, Guy Petersen, Jenny Starwall, John Jarrett, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips
Synopsis: It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime in the Australian Outback — full of fun, sun and adventure. But, what happened to a trio of 20-something backpackers took a wrenching detour into the depths of unrelenting terror. Based on true events, “Wolf Creek” is the haunting story of their unthinkable ordeal — a mounting white-knuckle nightmare so real it was destined to become horror legend. “Wolf Creek” is a startlingly intense motion picture experience of rapidly escalating dread and suspense. The chillingly believable events begin as freewheeling, college-aged pals Liz, Kristy and Ben head out for a holiday hike in stunning Wolf Creek National Park to see its mysterious meteor crater. When they return, their car won’t start. Trapped in the vast emptiness of the wilderness — all they can do is wait for rescue. Luckily, as night falls, along comes colorful local bushman Mick and his massive truck, offering a tow to safety. But, as the sun comes up the next morning, it becomes shockingly apparent that Mick has no intention of fixing their car or letting them leave the Outback…ever again.
Review: “Wolf Creek” is a movie I had planned on seeing many years ago due to the overwhelming hype surrounding its release (it’s supposedly based on true events). I had forgotten about it for awhile, but was more than pleasantly suprised when I stumbled upon it recently. I came into the movie expecting it to be a richer version of “Hostel” and it pretty much met/exceeded my base expectations. What I didn’t expect from this movie was an overwhelming sense of dread from the location where it was filmed (essentially, the middle of nowhere – the vast Australian outback). The DP clearly knew what he was doing with this film, as every shot takes in the vast emptiness of the location in which these unfortunate characters find themselves.
The movie’s intro is so very bland and boring that it leads you to feel a sense of deja vu… typical 20 year-olds partying it up while on vacation in a different country (yawn). It’s been done so many times before that it’s become a staple of horror movies involving travel or vacations (hence the deja vu). Once we get past the boring background stuff, we get hit with a healthy dose of horror. One of the troubling structural problems of this movie is that the killer is (seemingly) vanquished within the first 30 minutes. Although I must admit, the victim could have done a lot more to ensure he stayed down and stayed dead. Because the killer is very nearly put down in the beginning, the entire structure of the movie changes. It feels almost as though the killer is avenging his own embarassing assault throughout the movie. The movie also leads you to immediately conclude that there is a great possibility his victims will escape – which they manage to do, if only for a short while – because the killer seems pretty dumb in terms of maintaining the captivity of his victims. What occurs afterwards is a cat and mouse sequence of events where the killer somehow miraculously revcovers from a gunshot wound to the neck and drives around the outback searching for his two hopeless victims. What pissed me off was the way Liz was smart enough to knock out the killer in the beginning, but stupid enough to decide it would be a good idea to crash their stolen car and make a run for it instead. Thus begins an unfortuante series of bad decisions on behalf of the victims. They manage to get away so easily, yet they still manage to get caught due to their own stupidity.
The male character (Ben), who isn’t mentioned for pretty much half the movie (I guess you’re supposed to assume he was already killed off), eventually re-appears in the last 10 minutes (10 minutes!) of the movie. The excuse for his hour long absence? He was nailed to a wall. Pfft. I’ve seen victims escape from far, far, far worse. Ben manages to finally rip out the nails through his hands and makes a run for it. He finally collapses by a highway and is rescued by other tourists. What confuses me about this ending is #1 why were we not shown where Ben was? He was a fairly important character and there was a bit of a love triangle developing between him and the ladies. His abscence is very strange because by the time they show where he is at, you pretty much don’t really care anymore or have forgotten he even existed. #2 The killer clearly did not like Ben in the beginning. He looked like he was ready to gut him ASAP. Typically guys tend to die first in horror movies because the killer likes to eliminate them as they are an immediate threat. Why the killer chose not to off Ben immediately boggles my mind. And #3 why would the ending state Ben was considered a suspect in the missing persons case of his two travelling companions? He looked so badly beat/cut up and he clearly had an explanation for what happened. I fail to understand how he became a suspect in the disappearance of the girls. It may seem as I’m pointing out a lot of structural problems inherent in the film’s plot, however I still think this film is superb based upon the setting, the cinematography and the unexpectedness of many crucial scenes. The kill scenes are done exceedingly well. And even though there are only 2 or 3 deaths, they are still very well done and incredibly gruesome.