Movie Review: Wolf Creek 2
Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn
Directed by: Greg McLean
Wolf Creek was an exercise in true Aussie horror. During the screening I attended way back when, several people left when the events became too visceral and it left a mark on many of those who stayed til the end. It was smart, brutal, harrowing and showcased the dangerous nature of the Australian outback. Wolf Creek stands as one of my favourite horror films and certainly one of the best Australian films ever made. So I was excited for Wolf Creek 2.
Boy was I disappointed.
Wolf Creek 2 tells the story of Mick Taylor, the serial killing outback wanderer from the original film. It tells his story as he burns and cuts and stabs and shoots and grinds his way through victim after victim. John Jarratt is masterful in his performance but sadly this is one of few credits I can give to this otherwise ordinary, uninspired film.
The movie opens with what is easily one of Aussie cinemas best scenes. Two cops, bored on their speed patrol of an isolated outback highway decide to pursue Taylor, fabricating a speeding offence and using it to cite him. They are clearly assholes, and when he does in fact end their lives in a spectacular fashion I distinctly remember the audience cheering. Outside of this, well…
I’d like to tell you more about the plot of the film, while avoiding major spoilers naturally, but sadly I’ve already told you everything. Wolf Creek 2 is the story of Mick Taylor, a serial murdering pig-shooter from what is ostensibly rural Western Australia (in the first film at least, it is much more vague this time round) on a dull rampage for reasons unknown. Although Wolfe Creek Crater (spelled Wolf Creek Crater in the films for reasons that have genuinely never been clear to me) was a fairly large part of the original it seems almost as an afterthought here.
Much of the action takes place elsewhere, the backpackers (who in this film remain underdeveloped and serve merely as fodder for the film’s murderous star) don’t even seem that excited by the location, and the only aerial shot seemed to be CGI; looking vastly different from the aerial shot in Wolf Creek, and from the real life WA crater.
There’s little more to it than that. Characters are one dimensional, lacking any of the personality or development as their predecessors. As a result I found myself caring very little about their fates. I don’t recall a single fact about the film’s main prey, an Englishman in Australia for reasons unknown. It’s claimed during one scene that he is here for a bit of fun, but is that reality or just the result of Mick’s torture? More to the point, does it matter? The character is just there, as all previous characters in the movie, to be hunted and killed by Mick Taylor and outside of that function they serve no other.
The story itself goes nowhere, clumsily shoe-horning aspects of Mick’s childhood, an almost retcon of his prior motivations where he bounces between killing for the meat (which always seemed to be his goal in the original) and the fun of it, and some sort of misguided nationalism, somehow taking his job as feral pig hunter ten steps too far.
Add to this an entirely unnecessary chase scene with an articulated truck and a pointless, unpleasant and overplayed scene involving the brutal, lingering deaths of a troop of kangaroos and you have a mess of a film that takes the clean, clever and intense experience of it’s predecessor and fills it with explosions, action and so many quips from John Jarratt that any mystique or intensity of the character dies along with his victims as the character of Mick Taylor becomes a parody of himself.
There are some good aspects to Wolf Creek 2; McClean’s direction is, as always, stunning with wide vistas of the Australian outback, gorgeous camerawork and a real eye for detail (such as Mick’s iconic truck) but sadly it is marred by an overly comical script, a lack of narrative direction, underwhelming and undeveloped characters and an unclear sense of what the character of Taylor wants to accomplish.
I went in expecting a steak as meaty as the original and was handed a plate of hummus and a few stale crackers. A very nicely presented plate of stale crackers, but a nice garnish doesn’t make a good meal. I don’t agree with The Movie Show’s refusal to review this movie any more than I understand the gushing adoration of cinemagoers and the mainstream press. Neither are apt because both give it attention it doesn’t deserve.
This is that kind of film. If Wolf Creek was Friday The 13th, Wolf Creek 2 is Jason X. If Wolf Creek was Child’s Play, Wolf Creek 2 was Seed of Chucky. If Wolf Creek was A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wolf Creek 2 was the remake. Sadly, the opening scene is both the best part of the movie and sets a sad standard for the remainder of a film truly lacking in any form of subtlety.
It’s not worthy of abundant praise, nor is it so upsetting that it warrants the boycott of David and Margaret. It’s just kind of there, banal and uninspired, a sequel that fails to come close to the movie that spawned it and an underwhelming experience overall. Stick to the original. It’s what McLean should have done.