Wolf Creek – The Aussie Deliverance
By Kristin Battestella
It took a few minutes adjusting to the Australian accents and dialogue, but the exotic locale is part of the film’s charm. (Close captioned subtitles that include birds chirping are not, but I digress.) Debut director Glenn McLean shoots some lovely Outback scenery and landscapes. His setup, attention to detail, and real characters give Wolf Creek that road trip coming of age feel. This mood and the fact that Wolf Creek is based on true events help the film achieve more than today’s other run of the mill slasher flicks.
When British vacationers Liz and Kristy (Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi) set out to see the Wolf Creek Crater Park with Aussie friend Ben (Nathan Phillips) all seems fun. After the breathtaking experience of hiking the crater, the trio finds their car dead. Low and behold, the seemingly lovable Mick (John Jarratt) comes along and offers to help the stranded tourists. Of course, Mick has a penchant for automotive torture not seen since the likes of Leatherface and his chainsaw. All the horror clichés are here. You’re not supposed to follow the creepy Bushman in the middle of the Australian desert, just like you aren’t supposed to go down the into the dark basement. We know something bad awaits this group, but we are captivated and eagerly watch the doom unfold. Naturally I’ve never heard of any of these people, but the acting is spot on.
Two girls and one guy-they are all friends, but there’s naturally some sexual tension. In the opening scenes, all three party and have questionable encounters. They are real and complete people, and it is totally refreshing to see McLean take the time to develop them as such. Somehow we expect all three to make it, and when they don’t, it’s heartbreaking. The audience knows it’s all a bad idea. You yell at the TV the whole time-telling Liz to find a damn weapon. You know they cannot possibly escape, but the sadistic fortress of Mick is enough to make you root for anyone. Get the heck out of there!
McLean writes, directs, and produces his debut here. He makes expert use of the Australian locales-yes for their stunning beauty, but also for their wildness and danger. Many parts of Australia remain unexplored, so indeed this true story of a sadistic Crocodile Dundee gone wild is absolutely believable. Like Hannibal Lector or even the real life Natalie Holloway mystery-I can suspect something like this happened to her. This reality is more terrifying then any pretend monster. I feel bad for the tourism authorities in Australia. If I ever go there I sure as heck won’t be straying from Sydney.
Wolf Creek scares the outback out of us just like Deliverance squealed us away from the south. I purchased the unrated DVD, so I am unsure where it differs from the limited theatrical release. I’m also not sure which version was screened at Sundance, where McLean was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. I can imagine more gore and offensive language is added, but even then the obscenities aren’t extreme. These Aussies seem to use the f-bomb more than most, but I would too in their situation. Even Mick’s gore house isn’t loaded with excessive blood and body parts. Kristy wears enough blood and staggers just enough to imply bodily harm-and Mick’s talk of rubbers grimly sums that up for us. Just enough leftovers adorn his lair. With Wolf Creek, again it’s what you don’t see that makes it stand out and rise above.
Not for the faint of heart or children by any means, Wolf Creek is for fans of the beautiful and the horrid-if that makes any sense. If you can’t remember the last time you saw an intelligent horror film, then Wolf Creek is a must see.