“A worthy sequel that doesn’t merely rehash the first film but instead takes the franchise into new territory in terms of character and style.”
It’s been eight years since writer and director Greg McClean first took us to Wolf Creek, but the wait has been worthwhile as both McClean and star John Jarratt have delivered a worthy sequel that doesn’t merely rehash the first film but instead takes the franchise into new territory in terms of character and style.
Whereas the first Wolf Creek shared more than a few strands of DNA with Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005), delivering a slow burn first half in which we don’t even meet big bad Mick Taylor until a good way in to the film before quickly shifting into high gear in terms of both pacing and shock value, the sequel hits the ground running and rarely lets up.
This time around we already know that Taylor is several shrimps short of a barbie so we find ourselves wearing guilty but gleeful grins on our faces as we wait for things to go very wrong for the unsuspecting people that cross his path. Opening with a couple of obnoxious and corrupt cops deciding to pull him over we know it’s not a case of what will happen to them but when, and we don’t have to wait long until he’s having fun with his trademark big knives and sniper rifle.
Jarratt is on fine form as the bastard son of Freddy Krueger and Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee and we’re never quite sure if McClean is playing this as a pitch black comedy and we’re supposed to be cheering Mick Taylor on, or whether we should be appalled at the sadistic and often extremely visceral things that he does to his victims.
Whether watching him toy with a pair of German backpackers for the bulk of the film’s first act, or his cat and mouse game with English tourist Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr) for the remainder of the movie, we can’t help but be entertained and even slightly endeared by Taylor. In fact the viewing experience is akin to watching the Saw movies, in that we’re more fascinated by the traps than the people in them, and we find that we’re less interested in seeing the good guys getting away from Taylor as we are in seeing what method he’ll come up with to expedite their demise.
To that end, the film delivers in spades in one particular sequence between Taylor and Hammersmith, the former forcing the latter to take a pop quiz to see just how much he knows about Australian history. The chemistry between the two men here is fabulous, with Corr absolutely nailing both the English accent (he’s actually Australian) and sense of humour in what is effectively one long scene between the two men that brings to mind the spirit of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
It’s during this deadly duel of wits that we’re given an insight in the reasons behind Taylor’s extremely prolific killing spree as he explains that “In this world, there’s people like me and there’s people like you, and people like me eat people like you. You’re nothing but foreign vermin, a stinking introduced species, and it’s up to my kind to wipe your kind out.” Giving a killer a motive isn’t always a smart move — the Michael Myers of the original Halloween was genuinely frightening because we had no clue why he was stalking Laurie whereas the grown up version of the whiny clichéd kid in Rob Zombie’s underwhelming remake was far less effective — and was something that the first Wolf Creek avoided, with Taylor apparently just killing for the sport of it. It works here, though, with Taylor’s xenophobic rationale making him even more intimidating because he truly believes that he is doing Australia a favour in exterminating what he perceives as ‘foreign vermin’.
Those who loved the first film will find much to enjoy in this sequel, not least the chance to spend more time with Mick Taylor, who could be entertaining for another instalment or two if handled right (there’s already talk of a Wolf Creek 3), and the Aussie outback once again provides a spectacular backdrop to his twisted tale becoming a character in its own right as it did in the original. Throw in several high octane action sequences, including a vehicle chase involving that incorporates kangaroos, and a satisfying amount of gore and you’ve got a perfect Saturday night horror movie.
Extras consist of forty-minutes of deleted scenes, none of which would have added much to the feature and are more like extended scenes, and an interesting fifty minute making of documentary that features all of the players both in front of and behind the camera.
Director: Greg McClean
Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn, Phillippe Klaus
Running Time: 106 minutes
DVD Release Date: 15 September 2014