Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Greg McLean
Written by: Greg Mclean & Aaron Sterns
Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn & Philippe Klaus
I’ve been hearing about the supposed sequel to Greg McLean’s terrifying WOLF CREEK for years now. The 2005 original took its sweet time developing the main characters, which some people didn’t care for, but this approach made everything that came in the second half much more horrific. With WOLF CREEK 2, McLean returns to the director’s chair and also co-writes the screenplay. In the opening scene, the viewer is shown some pretty graphic violence and this sequel automatically lets one know that it’s not playing the same game as the original. True, WOLF CREEK 2 may not be as scary as the original, but it’s a friggin’ blast. Combining a really disturbing nature with a sense of gleeful slasher fun might sound like a tough sell, but McLean pulls it off with style!
Aussie madman Mick Taylor is still stalking the outback for potential victims, which happen to include any foreigners who stray near Wolf Creek Crater. This time Mick is hunting a German couple and Paul, a British tourist, who comes to their rescue. Paul proves increasingly hard to kill and is giving Mick a difficult run, which the lunatic seems to delight in every step of. After the chaotic mayhem showcased in the opening sequence, the film takes about 10 minutes to establish the two German backpackers and then Mick shows up. The rest of the film is an extended chase scene between Mick and Paul through various locations. The bodies pile up, the gore splatters, and Mick cracks bad jokes at the expense of his (literally) disposable victims.
Based on the notorious Backpacker Murders (a case to read up on if you want a sleepless night), WOLF CREEK 2 maintains a solid grittiness that resonated in its predecessor. Things are undoubtedly more enjoyable to watch this time around, but there are some seriously disturbing moments (including two sequences in the final 30 minutes that keep ratcheting the tension up to higher levels). The gore is more explicit this time around and it’s clear that McLean made use of the significantly bigger budget with an overall slick visual look. The first film was graphic and frightening, but it wasn’t an all-out gorefest. This sequel opts to be a just a slasher, albeit a creative and very entertaining one, and loses a bit of that darkness that shook me up as I originally viewed WOLF CREEK.
There are nods throughout the film to other movies of this kind. I noticed a couple of references to THE HITCHER (I speak of the original, not the lame remake) and Steven Spielberg’s DUEL. In fact, there’s a really awesome extended car chase that resembles one of the more memorable scenes in that underrated thriller. John Jarratt reprises his role as Mick and blends right back into the crude, charismatic, wholly evil killer perfectly. Some of the one-liners don’t work as well as they should and he’s a little over-the-top, but that’s what audiences have come to expect from this character. He’s kind of like the really evil twin brother of Crocodile Dundee.
WOLF CREEK 2 is far from perfect. As I mentioned before, I was never scared during this sequel to an originally terrifying film. Some of the gore effects don’t look that great, namely one unrealistic head wound in the opening (you’ll know it when you see it). I did appreciate that McLean seemed to be aiming more for prosthetic effects than CGI blood. The use of computer generated gore never really looks right in the context of horror or action films for some reason, so McLean had the right idea when it came to that. The film also has a couple of stretches where it comes close to wearing out its welcome (106 minutes seems a bit excessive for a film that’s essentially one big violent game of cat-and-mouse) and I didn’t particularly like that Mick explains his motivation to one of his victims. Part of what made him so scary in the original film was that he was a two-faced psychopath. He’d put on an appearance of a helpful stranger, until he had you where he wanted you and then he’d reveal his true nature. The more we know about something, the less scary it is. That’s also part of the case why WOLF CREEK 2 didn’t ever scare me or creep me out.
This is a sequel to one of the best horror movies of the 2000’s, so it really does say something that McLean does another outing with the familiar material so well. This second installment is all about shock value, crazy gore, and a whole lot of fun. Jarratt’s return as Mick definitely benefits the movie in a whole lot of ways. Some parts didn’t work as well as they should have, but there’s a serious tension that comes in the final 30 minutes that did kick my ass. This is a really cool slasher film that is far better than it has any right to be. For horror fans only, but those who appreciate this genre will probably dig this one a lot. I know I did!