I can appreciate a quality horror franchise as much as the next bloke, but I honestly didn’t care all that much for the first installment of WOLF CREEK. The story was all well-and-good, though a bit limited to the premise of exploring how far one mad Aussie could essentially torture other people while maintaining the interest of a willing audience, but that was about it. To my delight, WOLF CREEK 2 is a better feature; it improves on the original in ways I honestly didn’t expect (including character development for Mick Taylor), and it works hard to establish exactly where writer/director/producer Greg McLean (along with others) could take the franchise.
But between the thuggish highway patrol cops, the constant reminder of torture, and the scenes of a semi-truck mowing down a herd of unsuspecting kangaroos, I can’t imagine any of this is good for tourism.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “Lured by the promise of an Australian holiday, exchange student Paul visits the notorious Wolf Creek Crater. His dream Outback adventure soon becomes a horrific reality when he encounters the site’s most infamous local, Mick Taylor (John Jarrat). When Paul attempts to flee, Mick pursues him across a hostile wasteland and eventually drags him back to his underground lair. After seeing the true magnitude of Mick’s monstrosity, Paul’s only hope of surviving, where no one has before, will be to use every ounce of cunning to outwit the man behind the monster.”
Well, you’ve come a long way from Crocodile Dundee, that’s for sure! The WOLF CREEK franchise is a solid modern-day entry into the stylish world of torture porn (though some may disagree with that assessment), the largest portion of the teeth coming from Jarrat’s portrayal of the snide and sneering Aussie with the worst attitude since MAD MAX. While his role in the first film (from what I recall) didn’t rely so heavily on one-liners, WOLF CREEK 2 certainly is banking on the comeback appeal crafting Mick into more of a bloody prankster than he was a vile, despicable villain in the first cinematic outing.
As far the WOLF CREEK 2 goes, it’s kinda/sorta uneven. It honestly felt like I was watching three short films that had been meshed into one single work; and – to complicate things – the tone of the three shorter works was wildly different, along with the quality. (For example, the product package’s synopsis implies that Paul is a main character … and that’s only true for the second half or maybe two-thirds of the motion picture. Clearly, he isn’t there from the beginning.)
The first segment – that involving Mick Taylor’s re-introduction for audiences as well as the vignettes involving the young German couple – had an 80’s throwback feel wherein it was far more important for the killer to have a crisp, almost anti-hero sense of humor (a wisecracking Freddy Krueger, without the glove). The second film focused on Paul’s taut captivity as the two men play an edgy, SAW-like battle of wits one against the other (my personal favorite and the creative highpoint of the film, I think). The last film – Paul’s attempted escape through the bizarre catacombs of Mick’s Aussie torture palace felt far too derivative of the vastly superior JEEPERS CREEPERS for me to enjoy it as much as I probably should have.
WOLF CREEK 2 (2013) is produced by Duo Art Productions and Emu Creek Pictures. DVD distribution is being handled by RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment. For those needing it spelled out perfectly, this is an English-spoken-language release; however, that first third of the film in subtitled as the two principles speak almost exclusively in German. As for the technical specifications? Bravo! Bravo, indeed! This is one smartly produced film, and director Greg McLean serves up some terrific sights and sounds consistently. Lastly – if it’s special features you want – you have a handful of deleted scenes (nothing all that grand) and a nearly hour-long documentary on the making of WOLF CREEK 2 that is quite good as it explores the ideas around building a horror franchise. Nice work!
RECOMMENDED. Hey, look: it’s a horror film, OK? This isn’t Shakespeare. WOLF CREEK 2 sets up a premise, and even while delivering on it the film manages to become a bit more than the sum of its parts (and there are plenty of parts, all of them bloodied). Don’t look for all of it to make perfect sense – how did Mick get from Point A to Point B so fast without a vehicle; how is it that Mick’s able to constantly figure out just where his victims have gone or are headed; why is it no one thinks to legitimately fight back; etc. – because those things aren’t the reasons why we watch horror films. You want to be scared? Try to imagine yourself thumbing a ride off Mick Taylor, and that’s all the scare you’ll need for two lifetimes, afterlife included.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of WOLF CREEK 2 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.