Wolf Creek (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/09/2005

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Wolf Creek is well-made and well-acted but it’s also a horrific, downbeat and viciously nasty horror flick that’s often extremely difficult to watch – you have been warned.

The Background
Wolf Creek comes with the chilling caption “Based on actual events”, leading you to think that the characters had real-life counterparts. This isn’t strictly true, as it’s actually inspired by various real-life disappearances, as well as a number of different Australian multiple murderers - in that sense, it’s a little bit like Open Water, in which the details of the story were extrapolated from the initial disappearance of the central couple. That said, though the film starts out in a very similar way to Open Water or The Blair Witch Project, it quickly turns into a viciously nasty horror flick that’s closer to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The Story
The film stars Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi as British backpackers Liz and Kristy. After a night of partying, they hook up with Aussie traveller Ben (Nathan Phillips) for a road trip across the outback in his cheap car. They stop off to visit Wolf Creek National Park, the site of a massive meteor crater but when their car mysteriously breaks down, they find themselves at the mercy of Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), a Crocodile Dundee-esque Outback type. Will any of them make it out alive?

The Good
Wolf Creek is the feature debut of writer-director Greg McLean and there’s definite talent on display here. For one thing, the film looks gorgeous, with sun-drenched photography and some impressive location work. McLean also ensures that we spend a long time getting to know the characters and investing in their romantic entanglements, all of which makes the sickening violence that much more upsetting. It also works brilliantly in setting up a sense of dread, so that by the time the car breaks down, the audience is far more nervous than the characters themselves.

McLean has a good ear for naturalistic dialogue and there’s a believable semi-documentary feel to the first half of the film, almost as if you’re watching someone’s travel video. The performances are good too, despite a couple of wobbly accent moments from Magrath and Morassi. The film also creates a memorable screen monster, in the shape of Jarratt’s Taylor – he’s creepy enough in his first scene, let alone in the full horror of the rest of the movie.

The Bad
The main problem with Wolf Creek is that once the violence starts, it becomes genuinely unwatchable. This isn’t like a Hollywood slasher flick, where we laugh if, say, Paris Hilton meets a grisly end. These are likeable characters and it’s awful to see them tortured and suffering, particularly as we strongly suspect that none of them are going to survive. Similarly, the violence is nasty, vicious and literally stomach-churning – you end up staggering out of the cinema, depressed, upset and angry at McLean for having put you through such a horrifying experience.

The Conclusion
In short, Wolf Creek is an extremely well made film, but the relentless nature of the violence makes it difficult to recommend to anyone except the most dedicated gore-hound. Not only that, but it’ll definitely put you off ever setting foot in the Outback.

Film Trailer

Wolf Creek (18)
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Content updated: 21/10/2017 18:38

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