Wolf Creek is without a doubt the most intense horror movie ever to be made in Australia. It is full of unbearable suspense and a delivered with such ferocity that will reach even the most hardened fans of the genre. It does claim to be based on fact but is instead inspired by a number of Australian murder cases, most notably the backpacker murders of Ivan Milat and more recent Peter Falconio case.Ben (Nathan Phillips), Kristy (Kestie Morassi) and Liz (Cassandra Magrath) head off on a road trip that will see them travel from Broome to Cairns through some of Australia’s most baron landscapes. They take a detour to Wolf Creek National Park in order to complete a 3 hour hike to a huge meteor crater. Despite the rain, they are rewarded with stunning views when they reach the top of this marvel. On their return to the car, they are unable to start it and none of them seem to have any knowledge on how to repair it, so all they can do is wait. Midway through the night, a friendly local by the name of Mick Taylor (John Jarrett) shows up, offers them a tow and a promise to fix the vehicle back at his place. He is a real Aussie bushman type with a personality somewhere between Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin. All seems fine until they wake up the next morning when it becomes devastatingly clear Mick has no intention of fixing their car or seeing them leave his place alive.
Story wise, Wolf Creek does not offer anything new – the horror format of a group of young travellers falling into the hands of a madman in a remote area has been done many times before but very rarely is it done with such intensity. A lot of Hollywood horror movies nowadays have elements of comedy and take a much more light hearted and risk free approach aimed at the teen market. Wolf Creek harks back to a seventies style of horror and is full of genuine scares, a deep sense of dread and nail-biting tension.
Will Gibson’s cinematography is at once haunting and stunning. His stationary shots of harsh outback landscapes at dawn and dusk create a menacing atmosphere. These combined with a genuinely creepy score by Frank Tetaz add up to make it an even more chilling experience. All the performances are great and thoroughly believable which increases the realism factor. But it is John Jarrett’s performance that steals the show and is disturbingly convincing at the sadistic Mick Taylor. Who would have thought the friendly presenter of Better Homes and Gardens as well as a regular actor of good guy roles could do such a turnaround and become the scariest character to hit the big screen in a very long time.
There certainly has been a lot of controversy and hype surrounding the violence portrayed in Wolf Creek. I personally believe that we have seen many more graphic scenes in horror movies and thrillers in the past but I feel it is the voyeuristic nature of camerawork combined with the sheer intensity of Jarrett’s performance that makes this a truly terrifying and gut-wrenching experience.Wolf Creek is a film that will divide audiences and it is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is certainly not a film that I will be rushing out to see for a second time but it was very successful in what a true horror movie should do – scare the living wits out of you.