REVIEW: WOLF CREEK: THE MINI-SERIES

CAST

John Jarratt (Django Unchained)
Lucy Fry (Vampire Academy)
Dustin Clare (Spartacus)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Deborah Mailman (Offspring)
Maya Stange (Love In Limbo)
Damian De Montemas (In The Red)
Miranda Tapsell (The Saphires)
Robert Taylor (The matrix)
Richard Cawthorne (10 Terrorists)
Rachel House (The Dark Horse)
Jessica Tovey (Wanderlust)
Alicia Gardiner (Fergus McPhail)
Fletcher Humphrys (Rush)

Mick Taylor’s  murderous rampage continues in a new six-part small screen spin-off. The producers understand it needed to start hard, fast and gore-splattered, lest the target demographic find their slaughterhouse thrills elsewhere – in competition like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. Wolf Creek’s protagonist is now 19-year-old American college student Eve (Lucy Fry), who is in the outback on holiday with her parents and brother. Mum, dad and bro get minced post-haste by Mick (the running time barely clocks double digits), who chortles, snarls and makes jokes to himself, clearly chuffed to be back on screens.


Eve escapes the (very literal) chainsaw, more or less unscathed. But the cop assigned to her case, Detective Sergeant Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare) proves less than helpful. Early on we learn Eve is battling an addiction to painkillers, setting the story up with an internal/external horror juxtaposition: she must confront the demons inside herself while dealing with the very tangible spectre bloodying up the dust-caked neighbourhood. Instead of returning to the US, she resolves to find Mick and get revenge. The format is not quite hunter-becomes-hunted, given the villain is hardly the kind of character to run away or be intimidated.


The first episode establishes Lucy Fry’s performance in the nobody-left-to-turn-to lead role as killer, in more ways than one, material. Her pig-headed problem-solving presence is countered by Jarratt’s maniacal carefree glee. But like the shark in Jaws, the writers (Peter Gawler and Felicity Packard) keep him as an ace up their sleeves, the trump card to play when pace might have otherwise lagged. It’s clear early on we’re going to have to wait for a direct showdown between the two main characters; the series is geared towards that as an endgame.


Wolf Creek boasts considerable gnarly thrills and the staging is consistently impressive. A great series for the Wolf Creek Franchise.

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REVIEW: WOLF CREEK 2

 

CAST

John Jarratt (Django Unchained)
Ryan Corr (Where The Wild Things Are)
Shannon Ashlyn (The Road Home)
Philippe Klaus (Kill Your Sons)
Shane Connor (Neighbors)
Ben Gerrard (Dream The Life)

In North Western Australia, highway patrol officers Gary Bulmer (Shane Connor) and trainee Brian O’Connor (Ben Gerrard) are parked by an outback highway and are desperate to meet a quota for speeding tickets. Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), a pig hunter, drives past going under the speed limit and they pull him over, claiming he’s going over the speed limit. After belittling and insulting Mick, the two officers give him a speeding ticket and an order to get rid of his truck. Annoyed at their rudeness and arrogance, Mick promptly uses his sniper rifle to splatter O’Connor’s head as the officers drive away, causing the cruiser to crash in a gully. Despite Bulmer’s pleas, Mick breaks his leg, stabs him with a bowie knife and places the fatally wounded officer back in the car before dousing it with petrol and setting it alight, burning Bulmer alive.

A young German couple, Rutger (Phillipe Klaus) and Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn), hitchhike from Sydney to Wolf Creek Crater and camp nearby. In the middle of the night, Mick is driving by and sees their tent in the distance. He offers them a lift to a caravan park so they do not get charged for camping in a national park. When Rutger insists on declining his offer, Mick loses his temper and stabs Rutger in the back. He then ties down Katarina and prepares to rape her, but a wounded Rutger comes back and battles Mick. He is eventually overpowered and decapitated. Horrified by her boyfriend’s death and the notion of spending “a few long, fun months” with Mick, Katarina faints. She later wakes up to see Mick cutting up Rutger’s body to feed to his dogs. She flees into the bush and Mick pursues her in his truck.

Paul (Ryan Corr), an English tourist, is driving along the highway and stops for Katarina standing in the road. He picks her up, but Mick follows them. He shoots at Paul, but accidentally kills Katarina instead when Paul ducks under the shot, much to Paul’s horror and Mick’s dismay. Paul then drives off, dumping Katarina’s body and covering it with just a sleeping bag at daybreak. He then reaches a highway, but realising he is off course and has low fuel, tries to flag down a truck in the distance. He soon realises that Mick is driving the truck, having (presumably) killed the original driver. After a long chase, Mick nudges Paul’s vehicle at a cliff side, sending it rolling down into a valley, then sends the truck hurtling down into Paul’s vehicle which explodes as he barely escapes. Exhausted and dehydrated, Paul passes out near an outback cottage and is given food and shelter by elderly couple Jack (Gerard Kennedy) and Lil (Annie Byron). They plan to take Paul to the nearest town after he has eaten, but Mick finds the house, steals one of Jack’s guns and shoots Jack and Lil dead. Paul then flees again, while Mick follows him on Jack’s horse. He catches Paul hiding in the grassland and knocks him out.

Paul wakes up in Mick’s dungeon, zip-tied to a chair. Mick is furious at Paul for his role in Katarina’s death and prepares to torture him, but Paul pacifies him with his “English wit” by narrating bar jokes and leading Mick in drinking songs that he claims he learned at boarding school. Mick’s torture for Paul consists of a ten question quiz about Australian culture and history, with a promise to free him if he answers five of them correctly. However if Paul gets a question wrong, he loses a finger. Paul answers the first two questions and reveals that he is a history major. After he gets the next question right as well, an annoyed Mick (incensed by Paul’s knowledge) grinds off one of his fingers with a sander. During the next question, Paul tricks Mick into cutting his other hand free by deliberately answering incorrectly (and losing another finger), then grabs a nearby hammer and clubs Mick with it. He then flees through the tunnels, pursued by an injured Mick. Paul finds several decayed corpses of Mick’s victims and a severely emaciated woman (Jordan Cowan) woken by him begs to be freed. Eventually he finds an exit, but notices a sheet on the ground directly in front of it.

Lifting it up, he finds a Punji stick trap underneath and considers trying to jump over it. He hears someone coming and hides in a corner, assuming that it is Mick coming to get him. When the person who approaches walks past the corner, Paul then knocks the person into the trap with the claw hammer, killing them. But when he looks down to see what he thinks is Mick’s corpse, he discovers it was just the woman he encountered earlier. Immediately afterwards, Mick finds and subdues Paul. After declaring himself “the winner” and lecturing how “It’s up to my kind to wipe your kind out”, Mick head-butts him unconscious.

When he wakes up, Paul finds himself on a footpath in a small town, dressed only in his underpants and with wounds across his body. He finds a piece of paper near him which reads “Loser”, and he is soon apprehended by the police. A series of title cards reveal that despite his claims of a crazed gunman hunting tourists in the Australian Outback, British tourist Paul Hammersmith was initially listed as a probable suspect in a series of unsolved murders in the Wolf Creek area. Despite the investigation, he suffered a complete mental breakdown and was deported to the UK and placed in full-time care at Ashworth Hospital, Merseyside. He is currently listed as a permanent resident. The film ends in a manner similar to the previous film, with Mick Taylor walking off into the outback with his rifle.

Wolf Creek 2 is a great watch and will no doubt have you winching and willing the characters to “get out of there!”. The final act is something special and is arguably the high point of both movies.

REVIEW: WOLF CREEK

 

CAST

John Jarratt (Django Unchained)
Cassandra Magrath (Ocean Girl)
Kestie Morassi (Darkness Falls)
Nathan Phillips (Snakes on a Plane)

In Broome, Western Australia, 1999, two British tourists, Liz Hunter (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy Earl (Kestie Morassi), are backpacking across the country with Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips), an Australian friend from Sydney.They constantly get drunk at wild, extravagant pool parties and camp out on the beach. Ben buys a dilapidated Ford Falcon for their road journey from Broome to Cairns, Queensland via the Great Northern Highway. After stopping at Halls Creek for the night, the trio make another stop at Wolf Creek National Park, which contains a giant crater formed by a 50,000-ton meteorite. While exploring the crater, Ben and Liz kiss.

Hours later, upon returning to their car, the group discovers that their watches have all suddenly stopped and that the car will not start. Unable to solve the problem, they prepare to sit out the night. After dark, a rural man named Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) comes across them and offers to tow them to his camp to repair the car. Initially hesitant, the group allows Mick to take them to his place, an abandoned mining site several hours south of Wolf Creek. Mick regales them with tall stories of his past while making a show of fixing their car. His manner unsettles Liz and Kristy, although Ben is less concerned. While they sit around a fire, Mick gives the tourists drugged water which he describes as “rainwater from the top end”. The water eventually causes the tourists to fall unconscious.

Liz awakens late the next afternoon to find herself gagged and tied up in a shed. She manages to break free as night falls, but before she can escape from the mining site, she hears Mick torturing Kristy in a garage, and witnesses him sexually assault her. Liz sets the now-dismantled Falcon on fire to distract him, and goes to help Kristy while Mick is busy trying to extinguish the blaze. When he returns Liz manages to shoot Mick with his own rifle, the bullet hitting him in the neck and apparently killing him. The women attempt to flee the camp in Mick’s truck. But before they can do so, Mick stumbles out of the garage, revealing the gunshot was somehow not fatal and that he is still alive. He proceeds to shoot at them with a double-barreled shotgun before giving chase in another truck. The girls evade Mick by rolling his truck off a cliff and hiding behind a bush, before returning to the mining site to get another car. Liz leaves the hysterical Kristy outside the gates, telling her to escape on foot if she does not return in five minutes.

Liz enters another garage and discovers Mick’s large stock of cars as well as an organised array of travellers’ possessions, including video cameras. She watches the playback on one of them and is horrified to see Mick “helping” other travellers stranded at Wolf Creek in almost identical circumstances to her own. She then picks up another camera which turns out to be Ben’s, and while viewing some of Ben’s footage, she notices Mick’s truck in the background, indicating he’d been following them long before they got to Wolf Creek. She gets into a car and attempts to start it, but Mick shows up in the back seat and stabs her through the driver’s seat with a bowie knife. After more bragging and furious about his truck getting wrecked, he hacks three of Liz’s fingers off in one swipe, and headbutts her into near unconsciousness. He then severs her spinal cord with the knife, paralyzing her and rendering her a “head on a stick”. He then proceeds to interrogate her as to Kristy’s whereabouts before killing her (offscreen).

By dawn, a barefoot Kristy has reached a highway and is discovered by a passing motorist. He attempts to help Kristy, but is shot dead from far away by Mick, who has a sniper rifle. Mick gives chase in a fast Holden HQ Statesman, prompting Kristy to take off in the dead man’s car. She succeeds in running Mick off the road when he catches up, but he gets out of the car and shoots out Kristy’s back tire, causing the car to flip over. A disoriented Kristy climbs out of the wreckage and attempts to crawl away, but is immediately shot dead by Mick. He bundles Kristy’s body into the back of the wrecked car, along with the body of the dead motorist, and torches the car before driving off.

Ben, whose fate until now has not been revealed, awakens to find himself nailed to a mock crucifix in a mine shaft, with an aggressive, caged Rottweiler in front of him. He manages to extract himself from the crucifix and enters the camp in early daylight. Ben escapes into the outback, but becomes dehydrated, and eventually passes out beside a dirt road. He is discovered by two shocked Swedish travellers who take him to Kalbarri, where he is airlifted to a hospital. A series of title cards states that despite several major police searches, no trace of Liz or Kristy has ever been found. Early investigations into the case were disorganised, hampered by confusion over the location of the crimes, a lack of physical evidence and the alleged unreliability of the only witness. After four months in police custody, Ben was later cleared of all suspicion. He currently lives in South Australia. The film ends with the silhouette of Mick Taylor walking into the sunset with his rifle in hand.

What makes this film stand out from more recent horror films is the strong acting which makes the film more believable. The three young leads are a great credit to this picture as their naturalistic performances made me sympathetic to their plight and I was rooting for them all through the film. But the actor who steals the film is John Jarrett for his portrayal of Mick Taylor. His character is engaging, friendly, creepy, funny and sinister and you will remember his performance long after the film has ended.