Wolf Creek Movie Review
Here's what we had to say in real time about "Wolf Creek," now out on DVD:
So, I've just popped in my copy of "Wolf Creek," a low-budget Australian horror movie that fared pretty well at some film festivals, including Sundance. The movie, about a couple of young people who get murdered by some psychopath, is apparently based on a true story - although I can't imagine accuracy has much to do with anything. The movie starts off with some sleazy car dealer who likes like Seattle Mariner Jamie Moyer - only Australian - selling some guy who I'm guessing is the main character a car. Skip to a couple of hot girls on a beach who just happen to be tagging along for the ride and we're good to go... The one in the green sort of looks like Kiera Knightley, doesn't she? Okay, maybe not, but I'm not complaining.
Okay, so the movie is half an hour in and nothing has happened yet, except for the three main characters making out with each other. Okay, so only the Kiera Knightley wannabe and the dude have made out, but that's good enough. Even though nothing much has happened, the movie has been quite good so far, developing the characters and setting... oh shit, the car has broken down. You're going to die. You're all going to die!
Enter the bad guy, a Mick Dundee-looking guy who seems nice enough (oh, and his name is Mick!). This is great setup by far. The movie doesn't use music to set the stage - you already know these poor people are going to get slaughtered, so why try to hype things up more than that? Things are going oh so well, and the bad guy is just beginning to show his craziness - though he still seems nice enough. Oh, here comes some music. Almost too faint to hear, but it's there, signifying the impending doom of these tortured souls.
The hot girl just passed a sign that said "Mining Company," and she follows by saying, "It must be some kind of mining operation." Good looks, not a lot of wit.
Dude, this guy is creepy. His laugh, his mannerisms... everything implies that he is going to be just as nasty as I'm expecting.
52 minutes in, and the sun has risen. Things have suddenly taken a turn for the worse. The hot girl has woken up bound and gagged.
Ah, the bad guy is dead. No, of course he isn't. It's only an hour into the movie. If you shoot a killer, make sure he's dead. And don't just hit him in the back with the butt of a rifle. Grind his skull into the dirt.
Wow, I'm loving this movie so far. Just earlier today I was discussing with my landlord (yes, my landlord) how there really aren't that many good horror movies nowadays. Most are just rip-offs of one another. Okay, this is about three young people who get mauled by a psycho killer, but the acting, direction and story are just captivating. The director really knows how to set the scene without making things seem cheesy - this is one believable horror movie so far.
Okay, now the hot chick is watching a home video from one of the killer's past victims. Don't know if this video is necessary - it just is reiterating what we already know, that this guy is one messed up freak. Still, I guess it is good setup to explain why their car stopped working.
Ah, the victim has escaped. Or has he/she? What a great spin on the normal "think you've escaped but the killer is about to pick you up in his car."
"Wolf Creek" is now over, and I am blown away. Not necessarily scary but immensely creepy, it is one of the most realistic and fear-filled horror movies to grace the screen in a long time. Recommended for all horror fans.
Review #2 (B)
By Nathan SamdahlTense throughout, Wolf Creek is one of the most engaging horror/gore films of the year. From Greg McLean, the Australian filmmaker who has brought us the short film ICQ and well, yeah, comes a film roughly based on a true story, about three young road trippers on a trek from Western Australia to Darwin and Cannes in the North, who realize their worst nightmare when the man that offers to help fix their car turns out to be a serial killer. And a sick one at that. The film, although fitting best in the horror category, does an admirable job of staying away from horror clichés, keeping the audience on its toes at all times. The filmmakers seem to know exactly who their audience is and know the extent to which it can be pushed.
What makes this film so entertaining is that it takes about a half an hour or forty minutes, maybe even longer, until the movie really becomes a horror/gore film. While this might seem to be a drawback, it really isn't. The director plays upon the audience's prior knowledge of the film to maintain the tension throughout the long opening. He also gives the audience a small hint of things to come when he tells us that 30,000 people are reported missing in Australia every year. Hum, I wonder what's going to happen to these three. The opening is also great for developing the relationships between the main characters. They seem like real people, which is fortunate because they're based on real people. The audience likes all of them and cares what happens to them. By humanizing its characters, Wolf Creek succeeds where most horror films fail. Usually, when watching horror films you can make a list of the characters and guess in which order they will die based upon their importance to the story, their likeability and often times, their race.
The three main actors also give impressive performances, not to mention the scary portrayal of Mick Taylor by John Jarratt, the not-so-helpful good-Samaritan. I am also under the persuasion that anything sounds better with an Australian or British accent. With an accent, they can get away with a lot more corny lines and seem more authentic than with American actors. Thankfully though, the actors in Wolf Creek did not need to use their accents to cover any bad lines, the script (also written by McLean) is one the best horror/gore scripts in recent years. The dialogue is fresh and except for a few small parts, non formulaic.
Another element that helped this film tremendously is the setting. First off, it's beautiful. The cinematography is breathtaking, especially for its one million dollar budget. Second, the Australian outback is a huge space for the characters to move around in, so big that at one point some of the characters actually go back to the encampment where they just escaped from just to get a car. There is no one around for miles. They are all alone. A bummer for them, a bonus for the filmmakers. The story, itself makes sure of this isolation as the characters' initial goal is to drive to a giant crater at Wolf Creek in the middle of no where. For once, the characters actually want to be at the location where they are first confronted by the killer. That's until they find out he's a killer, of course.
Wolf Creek is an entertaining horror/gore thriller that triumphs over most other horror films in recent years. It will keep you tense; it will certainly make you cringe…several times. And it actually creates real characters. Yes, that's real characters in a horror film. This is a great start for director McLean, and a great film for everyone that has strong nerves and a strong stomach.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.