Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wolf Creek (2005)

I feel bad about Wolf Creek. When it first came out, I wrote it off as a ton of hype and your usual modern horror torture film and never got around to actually watching it. Until now. Thusly, I feel bad. I gave it a bad rap without ever watching it and it's actually quite the impressive horror film that accomplishes a lot with so little. It certainly shouldn't be written off as I did with it.

Ben, Liz, and Kristy are going backpacking through the outback. They've got their sleeping bags, their tents, plenty of water, and enough money to fuel the car as they drive across Australia. Everything one might need to survive this trip. To survive a normal trip that is. This time around they find themselves meeting an old outback survivor, Mick, whose old school charm and hospitality seem a welcome change of pace when their car breaks down. The man also happens to be psychotic and cruel as they soon find out and all of their survival gear may not be enough to stay alive when he begins to hunt them. Will the outback's treacherous terrain or Mick get to them first?

Supposedly based on true events (the film plays it up that way for sure), Wolf Creek is this generation's version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Not perhaps the genre changing formula and beast that our macabre 1974 low budget masterpiece was, but it does strike plenty of resemblances and chords to how I felt watching that for the first time. Wolf Creek is insanely full of tension and suspense, never really going for those jump scares and delving straight down into the sheer 'reality' terror of such a situation.

The film spends a great deal of time letting us get to know our three protagonists as it builds a strong relationship with them and the audience, to the point that we feel we could definitely hang out with them and take this trip across Australia with them. All this time fleshing out details and little nuances between them, definitely pays off as the tension mounts about half way through the film and introduces us to our resident villain here in Wolf Creek, Mick.

Mick is one of the genre's best villains in recent years. Although not the masked killer many slashers desperately try make mysterious, our first impressions of Mick are that of humor and charm. He seems like the nicest man ever and I'll be damned if I didn't feel like I would have trusted him to babysit my pets for the weekend. That's why when the film takes its sudden turn for the horror (it literally does so with a character that falls asleep and the camera blacks out only to cut back to reveal a sudden hell) its just as shocking to the audience as it is to our heroes. And then despite feeling like we know Mick, he suddenly turns out to be as mysterious and slithery as the many masked slashers. Its this duel reality that makes him one of my favorite 'monsters' in modern horror cinema.

Honestly, with the top notch detail work, raw home movie style filmmaking, a stunning cast that ably portrays well crafted characters there is not much to criticize negatively about Wolf Creek. My only qualm with the film is how its ends rather abruptly. It makes sense in how it ends almost in a documentary style way though as its 'based on true events', but I almost felt like I wanted more. Like a true stance on the good versus evil aspect of the film. But it works nevertheless, and Wolf Creek stands out as a film chock full of tension, intensity, and detail that pulls all the right strings. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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