Judge Daryl Loomis promises never to camp in a national park again.
People like me eat people like you.
In 2005, Greg Mclean (Rogue) released his first feature film, a nasty little thriller that takes place in the Australian outback called Wolf Creek. People didn't watch so much for the story or the violence, though all that was just fine. The real draw here was the villain. The most memorable movie killer in a while, the character of Mick Taylor and the performance by John Jarratt (100 Bloody Acres) are both first rate. Now a new set of tourists are at the crater, so this Aussie cannibal has work to do in Wolf Creek 2.
Facts of the Case
Rutger and Katarina (Phillipe Klaus, Ruby, and Shannon Ashlyn), a young German couple on an adventure in the outback, hitch out to the beautiful Wolfe Creek Crater, but are unable to find a ride back. After setting up camp and calling it a night, they are awoken to find themselves accosted by a concerned citizen, who warns them about camping in the park. He seems friendly, but Rutger quickly learns otherwise when Mick pulls out his blade and teaches Rutger a deadly lesson. Now he's after Katarina, and though she escapes, this is Mick Taylor's territory and he always gets his prey.
Wolf Creek 2 definitely satisfied the torture-filled expectations of the original film, but Mclean, who has returned to write and direct, changes things up enough to make it a different experience. He injects lot more action this time around, making it feel as much like Duel style horror as it does Hostel. The opening plays out much like the original, but unlike that one, in which he takes them to his lair, Paul goes out quick and Katarina doesn't last much longer. She's only around long enough to get us to the heart of the story, the chase between Mick Taylor and British tourist Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr, 6 Plots), who picks her up and tries to help her escape. Mick doesn't like this much, and Paul becomes the new victim.
This takes us on and off the roads of Western Australia, with Mick acting more like a cannibalistic version of Night of the Hunter's Harry Powell, in which he never stops and will always find you. This leads to some pretty great action set-pieces, including a chase impeded by a troop of kangaroos trying to cross the road. While Paul tries to avoid them, Mick, in a semi-truck, goes out of his way to take out as many as possible. Said semi, a little later, flies off of a cliff and right into Paul's vehicle, which is an awesome stunt that, like many of the effects (not the kangaroos), is done practically.
Eventually, they do make it back to Mick's cabin, and then it gets closer to what the original did. That's not unwelcome, and really, breaking it up into two distinct halves keeps either one from overstaying its welcome. It's a smart move on Mclean's part and he's clearly grown as a director in the years between the movies. That one I liked more than I thought it would; Wolf Creek 2 exceeded my expectations, which were at least a little bit higher than they had been.
Much of the credit for this really goes to Jarratt, who is in rare form. One of the friendliest horror villains I've ever seen, he'll talk to you like a bloke, make jokes, and pour you a drink, all while you're tied up and he's grinding your fingers down to nubs. I really don't know that I've seen anything quite like it in the genre and the performance, in general, is just really effective. In that humor, which is more regular bad old jokes than Freddy Krueger wisecracks, he brings out a ton of menace. Where Freddy and Jason are otherworldly killers, this guy seems like he could be real. Which also makes him more killable, or at least in theory, and that's where some of the fun is.
The outback landscape is utilized perfectly, as well. The film is shot very nicely by Toby Oliver (Beneath Hill 60), much of it in broad daylight. This is not only beautiful to look at, which is important to me, it also hammers home the vastness and absurd isolation of the land, which makes Paul's escape seem that much more unlikely. All of this far outweighs some of the other acting, which isn't particularly great, as well as some absurdity in the idea of Mick being, essentially, a human spy satellite. Wolf Creek 2 is horror well above a lot of what I see from the genre.
It only gets an average DVD release, though. From RLJ, the 2.35:1 anamorphic image looks good for a standard definition release, with bright colors that show off the landscape nicely. Sound is pretty good, too; though there could have been more work in the surround channels for some of the gunshots and explosions. It isn't too bad; the dialog and music is always perfectly clear.
Extras are limited to a basic featurette that goes over the effects, stunts, and production, as well as few deleted scenes that add only a little bit to the movie. It runs a little long for horror in the first place, so there's good reason for them to have been cut.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
If you're confused by the ending, and you probably will be, there's a reason. Both Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2 are saddled with the "based on true events" tag. Both take elements from a pair of serial killer cases and loosely work them in. I won't name names; you can do the research and spoil yourself. All I'll say is that the sequel sticks closer to the facts of one of those cases and what you see in the final scene is really what happened to Paul's true-life equivalent. Even though it doesn't make any sense, it isn't really supposed to.
On paper, I probably shouldn't like the Wolf Creek movies as much as I do. I get annoyed by jokey killers, the idea of tying up kids and torturing them is well played out by now, and I have a fundamental problem with the use of guns in horror movies. Mick Taylor is the culprit in all three of these problems; it should be a deal-breaker. John Jarratt is so good at this, though. He has this ability to make himself seem so likable, only to turn into a monster in the blink of an eye. I'd have a beer with him. He's unpredictable and it makes you think twice before accepting help from a stranger. He also makes Wolf Creek 2 a helluva lot of fun, and I can easily recommend it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: RLJ Entertainment
• Deleted Scenes
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