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Overall Rating
3.21

Awesome: 21.28%
Worth A Look34.04%
Average: 10.64%
Pretty Bad: 12.06%
Total Crap: 21.99%

7 reviews, 99 user ratings


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Wolf Creek
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The film that should have been called 'Crocodile Dundee 3'"
3 stars

The new Australian import “Wolf Creek” plays like a collision between two of the more popular conceits of contemporary horror films. The first half deals with a small group of know-it-alls who somehow find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere and realize with horror that their book smarts and snarky attitudes are completely useless in such a situation. The second has those same people being picked off, one by one and in the most sadistic manner possible, by a virtual stranger who seems to have made up for his lack of motivation with an abundance of hunting rifles, giant knives and other handy torture devices. In other words, imagine a peanut butter cup of terror in which “The Blair Witch Project” gets dipped into the original “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and then smeared with Vegemite.

After the requisite title cards informing us that a.) 30,000 people go missing in Australia each year and b.) that what we are about to see is “based on a true story,” the film opens on a trio of amiable young dopes–British girls Liz (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy (Kestie Morassi) and Aussie bloke Ben (Nathan Phillips)–as they set off on a long road trip through the Australian outback. They make a stop at the virtually abandoned Wolf Creek meteor crater and when they finally return to their car, they discover that both the auto and their watches have mysteriously stopped working. That evening, they are spotted by the amiable Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), a friendly Crocodile Dundee-type who offers to tow them back to his remote farm and fix the car while they spend the night. Since the kids have no real alternative and since he seems friendly enough, they agree and spend a friendly few hours around the campfire before turning in. Later on, Liz wakes up and discovers that . . . well, you can probably guess what she discovers but I wouldn’t dream of giving away anything about the particulars.

Although some gorehounds, stoked by the considerable hype that the film has received ever since its premiere at Sundance last winter (not to mention the rave quotes from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and the dope behind “Saw II”), may complain that “Wolf Creek” takes too long to get to the more visceral material–nearly two-thirds of the film has elapsed before the gore kicks in–it is this section of build-up that is actually more authentically creepy than the blood-soaked payoff. The most convincing horror films have always based their chills on authentic human emotions–the shower scene in “Psycho” continues to have an impact today not because of the level of violence but because Hitchcock knew that people are at their most nakedly vulnerable in such a situation and mercilessly exploited that fear for maximum impact. The idea of somehow being stranded in the middle of nowhere with no apparent method of rescue or escape is both terrifying (as someone once trapped in a faulty van on the wrong side of Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower for a few hours, I can fully attest to that feeling) and universal–the only thing worse is the fact that if someone does happen along, you are basically forced to put your entire life into the hands of a total stranger and hope that they won’t somehow take advantage of your vulnerability and do you harm.

Debuting writer-director Greg McLean does such a good job of slowly and quietly building this tension during the opening half that it is a little disappointing to see him largely abandon it for the hard-core violence of the closing half. It is well-done, I suppose (though more than a little derivative of too many horror films to list here), but this is the kind of filmmaking that any hack with a big knife and a few gallons of fake blood can pull off. About the one fresh aspect in this section is the memorably malevolent performance from John Jarratt as the increasingly unhinged Mick. Virtually unknown in the US (I understand that he is quite the popular television personality in Australia), his performance is one of the more unforgettable screen psychos of recent years, mostly because McLean resists the urge to turn him into a sort of anti-hero whom we are cheering for as he bumps off his victims as we did with Jigsaw in the “Saw” films

In the end, “Wolf Creek” is more of a calling-card film for McLean to demonstrate his flair behind the camera than a decent horror film in its own right. It isn’t bad–it certainly beats the dismal likes of “Saw II” or “The Fog”–but it winds up being just a little bit too derivative in the end to really take off on its own. Horror fans might appreciate the fact that it doesn’t actively insult their intelligence but they will probably wind up mentally cataloguing the various classics that it seems to be pilfering from in virtually every scene. Oddly, I suspect that it may play better for viewers who don’t normally watch such genre films and who might not be as familiar with its sources–of course, what would such people be doing at “Wolf Creek” in the first place?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11249&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/23/05 15:55:53
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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

8/08/14 oycjybrss USA 2 stars
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 ok...it'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 bacck.movie 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Dec-2005 (R)
  DVD: 11-Apr-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Nov-2005




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