Directed by: Greg McLean
Starring: John Jarrat, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi
Far more terrifying than anything in the ludicrously overrated Wolf Creek are the words "based on a true story" -- and that's exactly how this nasty, amateurish crapfest from Down Under starts. It's downhill from there.
At least once a year, some bottom-of-the-entrail-pail horror flick comes along that gets tagged as new, daring, groundbreaking and the salvation of the genre. This year we were treated to no less than two such movies -- High Tension, and this. Both look exactly like the same old stuff to me. Sure, High Tension is slick and this one's cruder than crude, but they're brothers under the skin -- supposedly breakthrough works that do nothing but pick the last bits of flesh off the carcasses of movies from years gone by.
First time writer-director Greg McLean has basically made an Australian knock-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre combined with a slightly calmed-down version of The Blair Witch Project. (Think of it as The Blair Wallaby Project.) But unlike The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the Tobe Hooper film, not the trashy remake), Wolf Creek has no larger point to make. You'll search in vain for even a scrap of a hint of a vestige of a soupcon of a trace of social commentary here.
What you have instead consists of three unlikable, meat-on-the-hoof characters who go to look at a hole in the ground (made by a meteorite) in the middle of nowhere. When they return to their car, they find it won't start and that their watches have stopped at 6:30 (a theoretically creepy touch that has nothing to do with anything and goes nowhere). Out of the dark comes helpful Mick Taylor (John Jarrat, Dead Heart), whose good Samaritan stance and "colorful" colloquialisms (think: the Crocodile Hunter gone really bad) are (big surprise) a sham. What he really wants, of course, is to torture the trio to death in various sadistic and repellent ways -- all of which require his victims to behave as if they're even more stupid than the film has already portrayed them (that's saying something).
The first two-thirds of the movie moves at the pace of a rheumatic, three-legged tortoise as it establishes the characters and gets them to their date with slaughter. Within five minutes, you're good and ready to see these people offed. They get drunk, they get stoned, they say stupid things, they're obnoxious and crude. Their impending demise seems less like potential mayhem than thinning of the herd.
Apart from the film's heavy dose of misogyny and tendency to lovingly linger over every drop of blood in its last 30 minutes, there's nothing to separate Wolf Creek's last act from those of a few hundred other cheapies. It's boring, then it's nasty, then it's over. That last one is its only saving grace.
Supposedly released unrated, the film clearly has an R rating on its end, making for another bit of shameless huckstering to sit alongside its "true story" rubbish.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke