DVD Review: Wolf Creek
By Jeff Swindoll Apr 20, 2006, 0:34 GMT
Welcome to Wolf Creek, where the suspense of The Blair Witch Project meets the horror of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Inspired by Australia’s “Backpacker Killer” who murdered seven backpackers in the ‘90s, Wolf Creek won wide acclaim from critics, filmmakers and audience members alike at the Sundance Film Festival. Three unsuspecting hikers take off for a drive across Australia. When the trio returns from a four-hour hike to Wolf Creek National ...more
“30,000 people are reported missing in Australia every year. 90% are found within a month. Some are never seen again.”
The movie claims to be inspired by actual events, but it also seems to be inspired by many of the great horror films that laid the groundwork for this type of genre, and will draw comparisons to recent horror hits.
In 1999, two British girls Kristy (Kestie Morassi) and Liz (Cassandra Magrath) and an Australian guy named Ben (Nathan Phillips) decide to pool their money and resources and buy and car and head to Wolf Creek National Park to check out the Wolf Creek Meteor crater. After the long trip, in which they have a short chat about UFOs, have a little who do you want to be your girlfriend angst, and encounter some semi-unfriendly Outback gas station folk, they finally arrive at the park and take the 3 hour hike to the crater.
On returning to their car they find that it will not start, and oddly all their watches have stopped. This is never explained, but I suppose it has to do with the meteor crater -perhaps. They sit around thinking that they’ll be stuck there for a while, but they see lights approaching them and immediately remember their UFO conversation. Fortunately (or unfortunately as we learn later), it’s not a UFO but Mick (though not Dundee, John Jarratt), a friendly native (the girls describe him “like that crocodile guy on TV”). He offers to give them a tow back to his camp and fix their car for free.
He seems friendly enough so they accept. However, his camp turns out to be hours away and not as close as they first thought. The outback is a big place so they take this long ride as just the difference between Mick’s definition of a “little way.” Mick starts to tinker with the car and the kids sit around the campfire and are offered “Nothing like rain water from the Top-End.” They accept the water and fall into sudden, deep sleeps and everything seems okay with the world. I mean they’ve had a hard day right? Well, things are about to get much worse. Things are not so peachy when Liz awakes the next morning alone and tied up in one of the shacks. Sadly for Liz, things just go downhill for our trio from there.
Wolf Creek will perhaps be inevitably compared to the other horror film of around the same time Hostel. I will not do that because I’ve not seen Hostel, but from what I’ve heard of Hostel appears to be a bit more “stylized” (I reserve the right to disagree with myself if/when I watch Hostel). Wolf Creek has more of a documentary feel to it - which is why I felt very disturbed by this movie.
From what I’ve heard of Hostel (see Frankie Dees' Hostel review), it sounds easy to think it’s only a movie, however Wolf Creek is a little harder to think so because of the documentary feel.
I feel like a camera crew followed Mick (Crocodile Bloodee?) around as he practiced his “hobby.” The flick was shot with High-Def cameras and there is some nice scenery in the 52 minute (!!!) buildup to the gruesome finale. That buildup will probably turn some off and there is not a lot of excitement is in those 52 minutes. However, I think it makes it feel more documentary-like. Imagine seeing the average road trip (drinking and sparse nudity) and how boring a 52-minute film of that would be. Others also might be annoyed by the rather large moment where characters could’ve killed off Mick easily and effectively ended their torment (and the movie too says the screenplay writer no doubt).
Wolf Creek is released in both an unrated (104 minutes) and R-rated (99 minutes) versions. They’re presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) and are enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include a generous 49-minute making of documentary.
It has interviews with writer, director, producer Greg McLean, executive producer Matt Hearn, producer David Lightfoot, director of photography Will Gibson, production designer Robert Webb, make up artists Rick Connelly and Jen Lamphee, editor Jason Ballantine, and actors John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips, Kestie Morassi, Cassandra Magrath.
Why is it that the behind the scenes of these horror movies show everyone having such a good time, since the subject matter of the movies is so opposite of the behind the camera fun? I can imagine that such documentaries about romantic comedies should show everyone hating each other. There is also a commentary with Greg McLean, Matt Hearn, Kestie Morassi, and Cassandra Magrath. Finally there’s a deleted scene (38 seconds and silly) and the theatrical trailer.
Wolf Creek was not a movie that I truly hated, but was more disturbed by it. The head on a stick scenes still haunt me and my imagings what might’ve happened to that now helpless character. I think a lot of horror hounds might bail out before the gruesome begins since it takes over an hour for the nasties to start. People who found Hostel too stylized may well want to give Wolf Creek a spin, but be prepared to be disturbed during the finale or pissed if you don’t like some of the plot devices.