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June 26, 2014

Wolf Creek 2

by Franz Patrick


Wolf Creek 2 (2013)
★★ / ★★★★

Whenever a horror movie starts off with a title card that reads, “The following is based on actual events,” a part of me is already repelled, as if the filmmakers are suggesting that the story they wish to tell is only scary because it is supposedly based on facts. “Wolf Creek 2,” written by Greg Mclean and Aaron Sterns, starts off exactly like this and so five seconds in, I was unimpressed and expecting the worst.

It is to its credit then that despite its chilling and gruesome level of violence, I was fairly entertained—for at least half of its bloated running time of a hundred minutes. It offers a few surprises, like who will be the final survivor—if any, and it will likely to impress gorehounds because just about every other scene is either a chase or a kill. For those who require more in horror films, however, they are likely to be disappointed.

A German couple, Rutger (Philippe Klaus) and Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn), is backpacking their way across Australia. As the doomed characters in the first film, they visit a popular tourist spot called Wolf Creek Crater and later encounter a deranged man named Mick (devilishly played by John Jarratt) who likes to torture and eat his victims. Needless to say, things do not bode well for the couple.

The picture is well-shot and offers beautiful landscapes. I appreciated the director, Greg Mclean, keeping the camera as still as possible despite insane chase sequences involving two vehicles—at one point involving a truck and a yellow Jeep (Ryan Corr plays the resilient driver). The standard nowadays, in order to amp up the thrills, is to shake the camera as fast and as often as possible. Here, Mclean is confident in the images he is showing. They are crisp, clean, and at times terrifying.

I liked the wide shots of the Australian desert. Shots of endless roads sandwiched by yellow sands with majestic plateaus sitting on the background are breathtaking. It would be a wonderful travelogue if there weren’t a serial killer patrolling the place. Given a story with more layers and characters we can relate with on a deep level, the contrast between an exquisite environment and monstrous violence might have worked.

I grew tired of the violence eventually. Expecting that the movie will have chock full of it, I braced myself and therefore expecting the worst. On that level, it delivers. And yet I could not ignore the fact that I began to feel bad about what I was watching eventually. At one point, an older couple become Mick’s targets. They get murdered in such a cold fashion that it drained my energy. Generally speaking, it’s one thing when brainless teenagers die in slasher flicks. I guess crossing the line for me is seeing kids or older people getting stabbed, shot, or mangled in any way, shape, or form—especially when they are supposed to function only as collateral damage.

“Wolf Creek 2” is a tough one to call. As a horror film, it absolutely has its strengths although its weaknesses are just as easily visible. There is an audience for a movie like this and, admittedly, sometimes I am one of them. Perhaps a sharper characterization and slyer sense of humor would have made this a better bloody escapism.

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