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Wolf Creek (Unrated Widescreen Edition) Print E-mail
User Rating: / 10
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Written by Ray Casta   
Sunday, 20 January 2008

Directed by: Greg McLean
Written by: Greg McLean
Produced by: David Lightfoot, Greg McLean
Cinematography by: Will Gibson, Brandon Trost
Editing by: Jason Ballatine
Music by: Frank Tetaz
Cast: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips
Year: 2005
Country: Australia
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 99 min

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Video: NTSC R1
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Dolby Digital 5.1 – English, Spanish
Official Website: www.wolfcreekthemovie.com

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Widely released on Christmas Day, the new Australian horror film "Wolf Creek" is loosely based on the true stories of Ivan Milat, dubbed the "Backpacker Murderer" in Australia, the British tourist Joanne Lees and her companion Peter Falconio, who was murdered in the Outback.  When the film opens, we read in captions that at least 30,000 people vanish every year in Australia, and while few are found from month to month, most are never heard from again.  The film, which is set in 1999, is about three good friends, Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips), Kristi Earl (Kestie Morassi) and Liz Hunter (Cassandra McGrath), who embark on a road trip to a meteor crater called “Wolf Creek”.  It's quickly established that Liz is smitten for Ben, the only Australian of the trio, who has a great time with the ladies by flirting with them, and in one scene, attempting to sing while playing the guitar.  There are a few places where the three go before reaching their destination.  One of the places is Emu Creek, where they leave after being insulted by drunken locals at the bar they enter.

Ben is rather close in getting into a fight with one.  Being smart, Ben leaves with the women and he doesn't try to impress them.  In this particular moment, I realized how believable the characters are, where they act reasonably and not like action stars.  In a lesser film, Ben would fight the drunk and became a hero.  Thankfully, McLean's characters act how people normally act.  Emu Creek counts as a red herring.  When the three get stranded, it's possible the locals are harassing them.  When they do get stranded, it is when they arrive back to the car after seeing Wolf Creek's meteor site.  It is clever how McLean sets up red herrings before the actual threat of the Milat-inspired killer.  All at once, their watches stop working, and then Ben tells U.F.O. stories.  Waiting for a car to pass for them to get a lift into town to repair their vehicle, there is someone approaching the car.  They believe it's an alien, not a person.  This is when Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), the true outbacksman who offers to take them to his place to repair their vehicle.

Then, they begin to have second thoughts on whether to go to the strange but friendly man's house for help or not.  After all, they don't have much money to offer him.  They don't know whether Mick's intentions are out of the good of his heart.  Liz and Kristi persuade Ben to ask Mick, and it's almost as if Mick is insulted.  They give in, as this may be the only chance that they have in getting back to town, and off to his place they go.  What makes them trust the stranger so easily is how friendly he is; he has so many stories to tell around the campfire, and has no problem helping them.  But none of the three think Mick is too good to be true.  They're naive to think he isn't at all capable of turning into the real-life monster he becomes.  As soon as they pass out from the provided drinks, there is no turning back; it is too late.  The scene fades out, and we open to see Liz in a shed, who wakes to find herself bound and gagged.  She hears Kristi's screams in the distance, and after hours of struggling with her binds, she gets free.  Though she roams Mick's property from this point on, she only thinks she is free.  She is anything but free.  While Ben is nowhere in sight, she sees Kristy in another shed, where Mick sexually and psychologically torments her.

McLean's film does not explore any new territory whatsoever, and to be quite honest, nothing really happens.  Uneventful and too familiar, the film may work as a worthy drawback to 70's horror, but to expect anything else is useless.  That is not to say McLean's vision is not satisfactory at least; it's a very well-crafted horror film that is small but effective with what it works with.  First half is great; it will make you believe that it's not at all going to be survivalist horror, but a road trip movie where the one girl is attracted to the man of the group and doesn't know how to express her crush.  McLean's old-school approach works better than simply plunging his characters in the horror scenario without any development.  I cared about Ben, Liz, and Kristi.  If a horror film can evoke this, then that is when I'll be hooked.  I was hooked because I was given a reason to follow the story.  No matter how familiar or unconventional the plot is, I still give a filmmaker props if his characters are real.  But anything that is built up and well established is lost in the second half.  As soon as the rug is pulled out from under us when the horror begins, the movie becomes too clichéd and predictable.  The famous car cliché, when they have trouble starting when they need it to start the most, is present and most frustrating is when the killer is knocked out after a shot to the neck, no one thinks to kill him.  Then you have Liz and Kristi hanging off a cliff, and Mick leering right on top of them; he doesn't even think that they'd be hanging below him.  I didn't even care that the movie became one big chase scene after another one, but what I did care about was how there was no substance at all in the second half.  McLean's screenplay had enough development in the first half for me to care about these characters, but only ruins it by losing focus of them when his set-up was all said and done.

If anything, "Wolf Creek" was inspired by "The Backpacker Murders" and strictly inspired.  McLean put the relationship with Ben and Liz at the forefront before Mick was introduced, but we don't see Ben again until the movie is practically over.  This was stupid to leave him absent because of what they had to work with from the set-up.  It’s stupid how McLean made Ben act at the end as well, and if it was absolutely based on a true story, then explain why the survivor isn't around to see what happens to the other backpackers.  Torture sequences are more in the psychological vein, and while the abuse is horrifying, it seems like we are supposed to see more and we are watching a cut version, but it is not.  For instance, the grueling "head-on-a-stick" scene seems incomplete.  The violence is chilling the way it was, but in a few cases, McLean plays it safe.  The ending is anti-climatic, and it doesn't pack a final punch a movie like this should.  Beautifully shot, the movie shows how the setting of an Australian outback is as uncompromising as Mick is.  "Wolf Creek" would be scary if Mick was not in it.  Speaking of him, John Jarrett gives an unforgettable performance; if it wasn't for how great of a nice guy he can play, his victims would not have went with him when they had car trouble.  Just as convincingly played were the victims, who had such effortless chemistry, you couldn’t help but think they are real people.  Though flawed, I recommend "Wolf Creek" to viewers who don't mind a methodical, worthwhile build-up to an effective thriller that doesn't offer anything new, but reminds us of 70's survivalist horror at its most terrifying.

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:

- Audio commentary with Greg McLean, Matt Hearn, Cassandra Magrath, & Kestie Morassi
- Featurette: Making-Of "Wolf Creek"
- Deleted Scene
- Trailer

The audio commentary with director Greg McLean, executive producer Matt Hearn, and two actors, Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi is quite enjoyable, but consists of many dull moments. In giving the viewer information and trivial tidbits, the track does its job. Surprisingly, though, with four people on the commentary track, there is empty space. Many will be annoyed by how, whenever a good story is being told to us, it is quickly discarded when someone interrupts. The track, which is the same as the one on the UK two-disc, is a nice companion to the "making of" documentary. It's a shame the DVD didn't feature the "Meet Mick Taylor" featurette as the UK two-disc did. I was interested more in the true stories that inspired the story. Inspirations are barely discussed. The character of Mick Taylor is essentially a collection of infamous Australian serial killers. The featurette runs at about 50 minutes long, but it's very well-paced and offers insight. For anyone curious, there were three deleted scenes on the UK DVD, but two of them were incorporated into the movie for the American release and the remaining scene can be viewed. It's called "G'day" -- Ben, before the trip begins, walks into a small store and buys a map -- and it's lame and worthless. The DVD is uncut, indeed, but I expected more cut footage of brutality or gore, as I've read in interviews that the movie had to be cut down severely because of the intense torture sequences that were initially longer and more graphic.

RATING:
VIDEO: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 – English, Spanish 1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema

 

 

 

 

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FIlTR   |71.100.0.xxx |2009-03-19 18:06:10
lame movie
I wasted my dollars watching it
Alex   |124.171.46.xxx |2009-05-10 00:28:11
If it wasn't advertised as a horror, you'd think it was a comedy. I just sat
back and couldn't wait til everyone carked it.
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