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Wolf Creek
2005 - R - 95 Mins.
Director: Greg McLean
Producer: Greg McLean
Written By: Greg McLean
Starring: Cassandra Magrath, Nathan Phillips, John Jaratt, Kestie Morassi, Andy McPhee
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.wolfcreekthemovie.com
   

Crap, my shrimp's on the barbie!
An unfortunately titled Australian film that is too similar to a number of “Wolf”-titled horror flicks which were released in the past 12 months, this indie thriller was a film festival favorite. The film opens with some grim statistics about the number of people who go missing in Australia every year – and how many remain missing. The film asks, what happens to the remaining 10% who are never found? In the vein of 'Blair Witch' and 'Open Water,' 'Wolf Creek' is a low budget but slick thriller that is basically two films in one. Supposedly based on a true story, the first half of the movie is a slow moving road trip, as three young good-looking people – the kind who inhabit beer 'or lifestyle commercials – decide to drive across the Australian Outback to see Wolf Creek, a giant crater out in the middle of the desert.

In fact, the scenery is an important character in this film – the desolate big sky of the Outback makes the layer between Earth and space fragilely thin. As our travelers make their way in their hoopdee down the highway, casual summer nudity and a habit of sticking bare feet out the windows, make them particularly vulnerable creatures.

The crater, formed when a meteorite hit the Earth, supposedly has curious UFO/alien/monstrous side effects. Could the crater be a postcard from aliens? What are those lights in the night sky? There’s even the clichéd around-the-campfire ghost story – a wonderful red herring that makes the audience expect something else. But first time writer/director, Greg McLean, is intent on building a slow sexual tension between the three leads, while the audience also begins to tense as we’re waiting for the horror/thriller action to start.

In a way, 'Wolf Creek' is remarkably similar to the recent remake of Wes Craven's 'The Hills Have Eyes.' It’s classic exploitation material – the vacation/road trip goes horribly wrong when the innocent tourists run into monsters/vampires/aliens or socially dysfunctional, hideously mutated cannibal families.

By the time our three young people meet a strange old man in the Outback – wittingly playing Crocodile Dundee to spoof Australia's best known caricature – we’re sure something's going to happen, right? The long drive across the desert seems to happen in real time, like a video diary, so when our young travelers' car breaks down, the audience is just itching for some chills and thrills.

McLean suddenly shifts gears and the second half of the movie is filled with nightmarish, gory scenery clearly influenced by the likes of 'Seven' and 'Saw.' Hyper-editing gives the audience fleeting glimpses of atrocities. It's enough to say, without giving away the ending, that the rest of the movie is a long and painful run from the clutches of the bad guy.

Overall, 'Wolf Creek' is a stylish B-movie, with enough panache to expect more from McLean in the future. Its trailer naturally plays up the vivid second half, but with its ponderous pacing, horror fans are going to have to sit patiently through a lot of character development to get to the blood.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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