Or as I like to call it – “Wolf Creek 2: Judgement Day”
First Michael (“Halloween”), then Freddy (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”), now Mick. All very ordinary names for serial killers, and Mick Taylor is probably the most ordinary of them all – his mask an Australian ‘mate’ accent. His weapon a knife.
The original “Wolf Creek” (2005), a breakout hit by Australian standards on a non-existent budget, made waves for promoting ‘torture porn’ while also being praised for its unorthodoxy and daring, and the sequel certainly knows why it made enough money to come back. Applying the rules of all good sequels there is more budget, more explosions, and more gory death. But is it a good sequel?
Opening with a scene reminiscent of the opening of “Mad Max”, two bored roadside patrol policeman decide chase down outsider and ‘bogan redneck’ Mick when he hasn’t done anything wrong. Because they’re bored. Boy, do they pay for that mistake. Like really, anytime someone says they’re bored, please reply ‘well for God’s sake don’t chase down Mick Taylor unnecessarily, things will NOT end well’. So sets up Mick’s journey hunting and killing pigs (his official job) and foreign backpackers (his unofficial one).
Focusing the sequel on the breakout character John Jarratt craftfully created, Mick is almost played for laughs – a parochial country bumpkin who likes his Australia filled with beer and Caucasian sporting heroes, and a bit of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while getting ready for mass murder. What adds real chill is that unlike Michael and Freddy, Mick’s actions are based on the real life actions of Ivan Millat and Bradley John Murdoch, killers who stalked remote Australia, and this creates a tonal discomfort whenever the films tries to go down the humour path. Really, you feel terrible for snickering.
Introduced a third of the way through is a worthy adversary of Mick, “Brit” backpacker Paul Hammersmith (Australian up and comer Ryan Corr), who stumbles onto Mick’s path by accident when he tries to help a poor German backpacker being hunted “for a meal”. Taking pleasure in the chase, Mick is the Australian equivalent of the T-1000, popping up in bigger and bigger vehicles until he has the biggest of them all. Also never seems to get injured. Or tired. Or have a hair out of place. “That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” Yep, one movie’s a sci fi, the other an outback tale.
Regardless, the film comes alive when Paul comes on screen, instilling the film with a likeable hero, and you feel for him every time he ‘almost’ gets away. The pen-ultimate showdown gets points for deciding on less action, more tension, as they engage in a really messed up “Hunger Games-ish” version of ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’, where the only real question is ‘are you Australian enough to live?’ While many will find this scene cheesy and one note, I rather enjoyed the awkward rendition of ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport’, and hey, viewers may even learn some Australian history to boot.
The final confrontation goes into bland territory though, as Paul gest caught in Mick’s underground labyrinth. Just a little long and unnecessary. Frankly, Mick doesn’t seem to have the intelligence or inclination to construct something so complex, and the whole thing feels a bit tired.
“Wolf Creek” certainly made a splash almost ten years ago, highlighting the talents of director Greg McLean (returning to the director’s chair for this outing) and long standing Australian actor John Jarratt, the latter impressing Quentin Tarantino so much he scored a role in “Django Unchained”. The question remains – is it still relevant and shocking enough to capture attention again, and will this one make enough money to turn “Wolf Creek” into a franchise? At the risk of getting my fingers cut off (just a little “Wolf Creek” humour for you there), I would say – unlikely.