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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.43%
Worth A Look34.29%
Average: 10.71%
Pretty Bad: 11.43%
Total Crap: 22.14%

7 reviews, 98 user ratings

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Wolf Creek
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by EricDSnider

"Scary and Australian, even more so than Paul Hogan."
4 stars

[SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL] When applied to a horror film, the words "based on actual events" usually just mean that someone, somewhere killed somebody at some point. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was billed that way, yet bore only passing resemblance to the real-life Ed Gein. And now here is "Wolf Creek," an Australian film that probably follows "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" more closely than it follows the "actual events" it is "based on."

Either way, it's a fairly effective slasher movie, equal parts tense set-up and horrific prolonged climax, focusing on three attractive young people who are tormented in the Australian outback by a murderous, perverse lunatic (who is based loosely on several real-life Australian killers).

It begins at the culmination of a Spring Break-like bacchanal, with a few of the nubile young folks deciding to take an extended vacation together and hike the remote Wolf Creek Meteorite Crater. They are Ben (Nathan Phillips), a smiling frat-boy type who claims to have a girlfriend in Sydney; Lizzie (Cassandra Magrath), a smart, pretty English girl with whom Ben develops a rapport; and Kristy (Kestie Morassi), Lizzie's friend, who hopes to find another guy somewhere along the trip so she won't be the third wheel anymore.

The three have conversations about UFOs and unexplained phenomena, and also stop at that standard fixture in these movies: the remote gas station, replete with odd denizens, that is the last outpost of civilization. Why don't they see that something strange is going on and take it as an omen not to proceed?!

Alas, they do proceed, and when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they are rescued by a chatty, down-home outbacker named Mick (John Jarratt). He's full of folksy dialogue like "Lucky you sheilas are traveling with a bloke!," and he offers to tow them back to his place, where he can fix their car and have them back on the road in two jibbles of a roo's whisker, or something like that.

I note this, however: Beware of any stranger who tells you that he is an expert marksman. That skill will never be used to your betterment.

The film, ambitiously written and directed by new-comer Greg McLean, spends 45 minutes on establishing the situation and the atmosphere, and it feels too long. We have to rely on our outside knowledge of the film to even know that it's a horror movie, as there is no direct foreshadowing of such things until the film is half-over. Someone who knew absolutely nothing about it would probably get bored after 30 minutes and give up.

But once it kicks into gear and becomes a horror movie, it proceeds relentlessly and punishingly down that path. It doesn't begin with creaking floorboards or flickering lights; it begins with sheer terror, and we are immediately thrown into the middle of a nightmarish situation. We don't get any more advance warning of it than the characters do.

The story is ultimately no more original than the stories that have filled the innumerable other films of this genre, and McLean knows that. He doesn't try to reinvent the wheel here; he is content merely to spin it in clever ways. His filming technique is sparse and the dialogue is believable. He wants it to feel real, and it often does.

McLean also does a splendid job focusing on first one protagonist and then the next, thus preventing us from guessing in advance who will survive and who won't, as the film never seems to favor anyone. The showdowns between the three figures and their enemy are suspenseful, frightening and often surprising, even for viewers who have seen their share of these movies. There will be, I suspect, not a dry seat in the house.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/22/05 19:53:27
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For more in the Australian series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/25/10 The Stick that Slaps Amen to that, SpaceGoat... 1 stars
11/01/09 Ron Joanne Lees (victim of the ordeal) has a book out, "NO TURNING BACK". Based on true events 3 stars
9/02/09 SpaceGoat There is something terribly wrong with guys who make films like this. 1 stars
10/28/08 Sugarfoot This movie has nothing on the grittier 70s gore epics and the narrative is really boring. 1 stars
8/10/08 ben dover awesome and truly disturbing 5 stars
6/30/08 action movie fan good scary last house on the left style shocker-realistic and believable 4 stars
3/01/08 Ivana Mann Brutal...brutally boring.Virtually no plot,just flacid,rehashed torture-porn. Total poo! 1 stars
1/11/08 misty boring 1 stars
1/03/08 Matt Not very close to the real story, but still quite good. Gross and scary! 4 stars
8/07/07 ravenmad Crap, awful, disgusting and not scary. Made to dehumanize. Save some green. 1 stars
6/27/07 philip easton a horror film that relies on performances rather than gore 4 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers people who make movies like this must think the audience is stupid 1 stars
4/09/07 Chris Redmond Brutally simple; unpretentious and, most importantly, deeply disturbing. 4 stars
3/07/07 Larry the hacker Mclean is a new master! Awesome flick! 5 stars
11/06/06 kory burtch beginning boring ending good and filled with suspence 4 stars
10/22/06 Dillon Isn't really worth your time and doesn't have pay-off big enough to compensate. 2 stars
9/17/06 Rhiann Wolf creek is based on true events..this makes it scary. And it has done an awesome job! 4 stars
9/03/06 Colleen Jenson As far as horror movies go, that fact that it is based on a true story makes it scary. 4 stars
8/24/06 Christine Dolce This movie was awesome!! I loved it. well done 5 stars
8/08/06 samuel not scary horror but ugly & sick - violence porn 1 stars
8/05/06 Agent Sands Scary moments, but for a true story it has one terrible script. 3 stars
8/04/06 pete.chesworth does not pull any punches very brutal 4 stars
7/30/06 daveyt ok, seemed to run out of time for a good ending...? 3 stars
7/24/06 Samuel Very much horror!! Very real! Very horrifying!!! 5 stars
7/16/06 JeromeBosch Vile and disgusting garbage, Horror, I think not! 1 stars
6/24/06 ali it was a asome show it was the best i have ever seen 5 stars
6/13/06 Tasia I thought this movie was's boring up until the end 3 stars
6/05/06 malcolm such potential but just f-ing boring 2 stars
6/05/06 katie Truly scary, a must see for any horror fan. 5 stars
6/04/06 William Goss Just falls short of a solid road trip movie, then just short of truly bleak horror. 2 stars
5/12/06 Indrid Cold There's a memorable moment when the audience's trust is brutally violated. Otherwise, meh. 3 stars
4/14/06 gfh like Tiff said, unwitnessed, but okay suspense in parts 2 stars
4/13/06 sherrysfunstuff AMAZING shots! pretty hohum devils rejects..true story????? 2 stars
4/06/06 c amazing, realistic and overall the best film of 2005 5 stars
4/06/06 anthonyuk a very disturbing and nasty last 30 mins! not for the fainthearted. 4 stars
2/28/06 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne "Based on true story" but is unwitnessed speculation; a fraud essentially. 2 stars
2/14/06 Danny Utter crap, all the hipe about being a great horror movie, it wasn't scary at all. RUBBISH 1 stars
2/10/06 Alice One of the better horrors in this style 4 stars
1/27/06 Reklc Not bad, could be more realistic though. 4 stars
1/11/06 Mansi Dido Okay, although I have seen better. 3 stars
1/03/06 Zaw WTF Rednecks gone world wide! even in OZ they got rednecks like Texas Chain Saw! 4 stars
1/02/06 Roy Smith Read brianorndorf review. More boring than ANYTHING in 2005! Total garbage! 1 stars
1/01/06 y2mckay The Crocodile Dundee Breakdown Massacre 3 stars
12/31/05 Evil Wolfie So friggin boring, and i mean the parts with the killing, too. 2 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands I mean, it gets tense. 4 stars
12/29/05 elvyn waist of time,very bad movie,no facts, pure crap, want my money back, worst movie this yr!! 1 stars
12/29/05 misty want my money was total crap.worst movie i have ever seen 1 stars
12/28/05 Matt Critics should research the Milat murders before reviewing. 4 stars
12/28/05 Corey M I want my $8.50 back! 1 stars
12/27/05 Nick Jones I left the theater wanting a refund and an explainion of why the movie was made 1 stars
12/27/05 Lana ITS DISGUSTING/HORRIBLE 1 stars
12/27/05 phil total crap,waste of time and money 1 stars
12/26/05 bill i hate this fucking move you could not play me to see it fro the 2 time 1 stars
12/26/05 Bo Bo Almost walked after 5 minutes 2 stars
12/26/05 lee Pure evil 5 stars
12/25/05 Dom Exploitive trash 1 stars
12/24/05 Croweater888 Try researching Peter Falconia and the backpacker murders you moron American reviewers! 4 stars
12/23/05 Jason Familiar horror elements in (for some of us) a familiar landscape, still scared me sh**less 5 stars
12/22/05 Manntis "Australia’s most baron landscapes"?? Learn to spell, reporter boy. 4 stars
12/20/05 Bleak This is the worst review i've read. Great Flick 4 stars
12/02/05 nikita nice camera shots, the murders were shocking though! 4 stars
12/01/05 Ron If payigng $10 to see women slowly tortured to death makes you happy, see a shrink instead. 1 stars
11/30/05 danni awsome 5 stars
11/30/05 glenn well developed characters, pace, suspense & shock... pure magic! 5 stars
11/29/05 alphred scary as hell 5 stars
11/28/05 Nathan Brilliant 5 stars
11/23/05 holly brookes i loved every minute of it. 5 stars
11/15/05 carl awesome 5 stars
11/10/05 Leonora realy well acted, terrifying 5 stars
11/08/05 Peter Blackman The emporers new clothes! Wake up people, this is boring, predictable, cliched rubbish! 1 stars
11/05/05 Bill James A boring, disjointed mimic of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre outback style. 1 stars
11/04/05 Truganini Heinous, malevolent, traumatic - and absolutely incredib;e 5 stars
11/04/05 aaron mcloughlin i don't feel that the writer is adept with the genre but is cashing in on the hype 1 stars
11/04/05 Joanna Chilled me- I recently went up to the Pilbura. The open desolate roads are creepy as it is 4 stars
11/03/05 sophie this film was great, and weird, one to watch again. 5 stars
11/02/05 craig possibly believable, but isnt 4 stars
10/31/05 Josh Mason Brutal and Amazing 5 stars
10/30/05 smiti This movie is more true then the reviewer above liked to believe. Great movie. 5 stars
10/29/05 peter it is all true plausable, not as a movie but as what does happen in the outback 5 stars
10/29/05 john bale Good example of genre, Jarratt relishes heavy attack of the crazies. Disturbingly graphic 4 stars
10/28/05 Dan Characters do stupid things but its quite scary 4 stars
10/27/05 Gizz Disturbing. Has turned me off ever travelling around Australia. 4 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) fair 3 stars
10/22/05 Starlet Silver Briliant filt 5 stars
10/02/05 Gav 12-15 year old horror movie. Seen it all before could actually guess everything. 2 stars
9/23/05 Seth Horrible junk 1 stars
9/21/05 Ed Shocking, no eye witnesess, and beging could have been squeezed into 10 mins!pitiful effort 2 stars
9/20/05 Jen The fact that it's based on real events and the horrific violence make an excellent mix! 5 stars
9/18/05 stephen green its put me off west australia 5 stars
9/18/05 Sarah Hewitt Gripping to the deadly end! 5 stars
9/17/05 steve Grim, dark, gory tale, hope it didn't happen this way 5 stars
9/17/05 Sarah Although the film took a long time to tae off once it did it just left you terrified! 4 stars
7/24/05 Richard Watts Clever, but ultimately unsatisfying 3 stars
7/03/05 Jaye Fantastically horror! McGrath & Jarratt are back for Aussies! 5 stars
4/15/05 raquel Awesome!! Loved it!! Terrifying, what would you do in this situation?? 5 stars
3/24/05 Mark Legron "Wolf Creek", along with "Murder-Set-Pieces" are the BEST horror films in the last 20 years 5 stars
2/05/05 john j the worst film i saw at sundance 1 stars
2/01/05 captainporks A landmark in Australian cinematic development. This is genuinely terrifying horror flick. 5 stars
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  25-Dec-2005 (R)
  DVD: 11-Apr-2006



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