Any country with Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) living in it is too scary for me. In Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek, sadistic serial killer Mick Taylor poses as a helpful native to tourists Liz (Cassandra Magrath), Kristy (Kestie Morassi), and backpacker Ben (Nathan Phillips).
After Mick has the three travelers in his clutches, he makes them wish they never came to Wolf Creek in the first place.
Greg McLean is part of the “splat pack,” a group of filmmakers who produced ultra-violent, low budget horror flicks in the early 2000s – other members include Rob Zombie, Alexandre Aja, and Eli Roth, to name a few. McLean’s Wolf Creek definitely secures his place in the splat pack as Mick tortures, and nearly rapes, Kristy before Liz fights back and gets them away. Unfortunately, Mick knows the Outback better than the two tourists and soon catches them again.
This film has a decent amount of set up to help the audience get to know the victims. The opening does drag on a bit, to be honest, I found myself wondering when they were finally going to get tortured. Sometimes the slow build-up works (see my reviews on Ti West’s The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil), but in the case of a torture porn flick, I’d rather get to the slicing and dicing quickly.
McLean does not disappoint, however, when we finally get to the torture scenes. Mick is truly a sick, twisted individual, I found myself equally drawn in by his character and terrified by him at the same time. The character of Mick is based on Australia’s most infamous serial killers, Ivan Milat, Bradley Murdoch, and the group led by John Justin Bunting.
The only thing I had a hard time watching, other than the torture scenes, was Liz’s decisions in this film. I can’t take watching such a stupid character, yes, she has good intentions, she wants to get herself and her friends out of Mick’s grasp, but she doesn’t go about this in a smart way.
First of all, Liv takes down Mick fairly quickly, but does she finish the job? Of course not. Liz and Kristy waste time beating Mick over the back (instead of the head or somewhere more fatal) or struggling with the getaway car while Mick awakens (when they could have run him over). Then, after Liz and Kristy miraculously make it out of Mick’s place, they fake a car crash and return to where they came from to rescue Ben, when they have no idea where he is. Obviously, this gets both of them killed.
And then here is the super vague ending. So, spoilers, Ben (the only Australian in his group) makes it out alive and we get some unnecessary title cards telling us how Ben tried to have Mick caught, but they couldn’t find any other witnesses and the case was dismissed. I found this whole bit to be superfluous, they could have just ended with Ben escaping or getting himself killed, for that matter. Either way, Mick would still be on the loose, making way for the inevitable sequel.
Overall, this is a great movie for torture porn, but not so great in terms of characters or conclusion. What Wolf Creek has going for it is an underlying sinister feeling knowing the character, Mick, is based on some pretty sadistic, real-life maniacs.