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Wolf Creek (2005)

  Directed by: Greg McLean
Written by: Greg McLean
Starring: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips
Links: Wolf Creek on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller
Awards: AFI Awards: Best Film 2005 (nominee)

This movie gets: 8.00 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 53rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"A man transformed" - a review by pearly

On the release of Wolf Creek, there was a bunch of hype surrounding how scary it was; that people were walking out partway through due to the violence, and that sort of thing. The film's release was even postponed due to concerns that it would affect the results of a court case involving backpackers.

As far as I'm concerned, both these pieces of hype are a bunch of baloney. Sure, Wolf Creek is scary, and gory, but it's not any worse than countless other films out there. And as for claims that the film is based on true events, and that it could have any bearing on a real court case, that's just stupidity. Wolf Creek is so over the top and clearly dramatised to enhance its storyline, that there's no way any sane jury member could use it as their own evidence when deciding whether or not to convict someone.

In Wolf Creek, three friends, Liz (Cassandra Magrath), Kristy (Kestie Morassi), and Ben (Nathan Phillips) set out on a road trip across Australia. They are out in the middle of nowhere, at a place called Wolf Creek, when their heap-of-crap car mysteriously gives up, and they're left stranded. Facing a night alone, it's pure luck (or is it?) that Mick (John Jarratt), a friendly Aussie cobber shows up and offers to tow them back to his place, where he can fix the car up. But, as it turns out, Mick isn't really all that friendly after all.

Wolf Creek is a somewhat gripping thriller. But, having been surrounded by hype, it was difficult for me not to conclude that it was lacking something by its finish. Just as it seemed to be really kicking in, the whole thing was over. But, while it lasted, the best thing about the film, without doubt, was Jarratt. Jarratt is well known and loved as a DIY expert on Australian television, but his acting in this film is amazing, and he is truly a man transformed. I would not want to bump into Mick in a dark alley, or, for that matter, a bright alley, or even a fully lit busy supermarket. As more and more of his evil is revealed, you have to shudder at the fact that there are people out there capable of this kind of thing.

My main criticism of Wolf Creek would be that the audience is often not given enough credit in figuring things out for themselves, with subtle plot points being later explained and laboured via what the directors probably believed were clever little tricks, but which actually made me groan. Still, the film serves its purpose, and it's really not a bad watch, all said and done.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 17 Jan 2006

"Not really a good choice for a first date" - a review by andy-j

Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips) is accompanying two young female English backpackers across the Australian outback in a clapped-out bomb of a car that probably couldn't make it from my house to the office without breaking down (I wish my car was that shit). God knows what they're all thinking. Anyway, they stop off at Wolf Creek, the site of an ancient crater made by a meteorite, but when they try to leave, they find their car is dead. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, they are found by local Mick Taylor, who offers them a lift back to his place. However, Mick Taylor isn't the friendly and jovial larrikan that he appears to be. He is, in fact, a bloody-thirsty, vicious, monster. Mick Taylor murders humans for sport, as a sadistic hobby, slaughtering and torturing without giving it a second thought. And these three are his next victims.

What makes Wolf Creek so effective is that, once it gets started, it rarely lets up on the desperate pace, and doesn't shy away from depicting violence. It feels like a horrifying game of cat and mouse that the backpackers can't win, and that we, as an audience, are trapped in. John Jarratt does an outstanding job with his violent, twisted character, overflowing with rage, getting off on the torture of his victims, and fulfilling his vicious needs. It enhances the terror considerably, because we know that he is truly merciless, that there is nothing the backpackers can say to make him stop, and, in fact, their protests only egg him on. We desperately want it to stop because we know what he is capable of, and we don't want to be faced with it. But Wolf Creek doesn't let us off this easily, and throws it at us with the same viciousness that Taylor shows his victims. Wolf Creek strips the horror down to its base element. No flashy effects, no stupid unrealistic moments, no plot holes, and no distractions. Pure relentless, unavoidable terror. The pacing is perfect. The film gives us time to breathe, relax slightly, and hope against hope that things may be okay, before hitting us with another wave of hell. In this way, we truly share the sickening ups and downs of the backpackers. The filthy, dark, and creepy setting of a murderer's home turf considerably enhance the feeling of fear. The fact that we are slowly introduced to the characters allows us to feel an affinity with them, which makes their subsequent torture horrible, sickening and absolutely heart-wrenching to watch. We really get a sense that there are precious human lives at stake, which is in stark and shocking contrast to the contempt and total lack of regard that Taylor has for human life.

Writer / director Greg McLean knows what watching this film made me realise - a truly effective horror film is the well-blended combination of many elements. It gives us characters we care about, a sadistic and violent killer, pacing, atmosphere, great acting, the perfect setting, shocking violence, and an unparalleled sense of realism. It all adds up to an experience that left me drained. Basically, Wolf Creek does perfectly what nearly every other horror film out there tries to do but fails at. It couldn't get it more right. This is an unbelievable and totally shocking movie. I thought it was a bit short, but once it had a chance to sink its little fangs in, it sure as hell took a bite out of me. I can't wait to see it again and marvel at what a masterful film this is, whilst going through the harrowing and shocking experience (and that's just the popcorn).

As this movie started, I thought my life truly couldn't get any worse, because I had just chipped a tooth. "The good times are over!" I wailed to an unsympathic jud. By the end of the movie, I was just happy to be alive.

andy-j gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 13 Jan 2006

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.00
Lowest rating: 7 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 9 (by andy-j)
 
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Reader comments

  1. In regards to the first rating, "And as for claims that the film is based on true events... that's just stupidity."

    After some hours of investigating, there seems to be proof of a backpacking serial killer. Click the hyper link to read more.

    Crime Library:
    http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/predators/milat/discovery_1.html

    All information under that hyperlink is the property of it's respective owners. At no time do I claim this to be my own property, but simply information I have discovered that relates closely to the events depicted in the movie, "Wolf Creek."

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Amanda on Sat 25 Mar 2006 19:08 #

  2. Hi Amanda,
    I'm not disputing the fact that there were backpacker murders. I'm disputing the supposed fact that this film is based on those murders, and that it's a close enough account of what happened that it could have an effect on the outcome of a court case to do with similar events.

    A comment from nofreelist's own pearly on Mon 27 Mar 2006 09:35 #

  3. Whoever considers this movie entertainment needs to have their head examined. This movie had no point and revelled in the violence. Truly sad stuff. It gets a 10 for being vacuous.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from david on Sun 09 Apr 2006 18:03 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (2 ratings)

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