***This review assumes that you’ve seen the first film and thusly does a comparative analysis on the evolution of key Mick Taylor-isms could potential spoil your viewing of the original Wolf Creek***
Relentless, terrifying and fiercely satirical; Wolf Creek 2 is best the horror sequel that this reviewer has ever seen and a high water mark for an already great looking year for Australian cinema.
Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), the apex predator of the Australian outback, is back and his appetite for torture and death has reached unfathomable heights.
Forget simply retreading the cunning traps for unassuming tourists (although Taylor does have his favoured techniques); Greg Mclean and Aaron Sterns’ evolved Taylor has swagger. From the opening moments of the film as two highway patrolmen (Shane Connor and Ben Gerrard) decide to cure their boredom, and flex rarely used authoritative muscles you get taste of Taylor’s new found showmanship and outward bravado. If you get in his way, you’re dead. If you cross his path and peek his interest, you’re acquired, and if you’re lucky, you’re dead. While the original film submerged you into unsuspecting horror, McLean and Sterns are packaging Taylor as a mirror to our divisive socio-political climate. Without spoiling the third act of the film, I can say that you’re in for a cripplingly great satirical flurry. Taylor’s methods are infused with scathing commentary that’s so prescient in this divisive Australian political climate.
McLean returns the director’s chair and his aptitude for figuratively twisting the knife, playing the audiences anticipation for torturous terror is as deft as ever. This time out however, everything feels bigger. Baz Luhrman lavishly adored the sublime beauty of the outback in Australia, McLean pits it against you, sweeping through the endless arid brush, waiting idle to chew up Taylor’s victims if he can’t get to them. Everything that is iconically Australian is wielded like a sword. During a chase sequence where Taylor is pursuing a potential victim from a road train their chase gets some bounding Kangaroo obstacles (insert ‘Skippy‘ joke here).
Jarratt is just thrilling a second time around. His first portrayal was infused with a desire to give the visceral and sensory authenticity to this tangible manifestation of evil, while his second portrayal you get to see Taylor with a flare for the theatrical. He’s the ring leader of this circus of death and all in sundry are marching to his tune. However, what’s more disturbing may be his feverish joy when his victims are under his knife. Talking to corpses for their positive biological qualities (“oh, a non smoker”) or joyously squealing “cookies” when he’s examining a perfectly ripe victim. It’s an abject passion.
Ryan Corr’s Paul Hammersmith gets swept into Taylor’s latest hunt and doesn’t suffer a bout of stupid in his escape attempts. McLean and Stern give Corr the most intellectually capable character to wriggle out of Taylor’s clutches. He’s desperate to live and not only has to contend with Taylor’s dogged pursuit but the central Australian dust pan and the searing sun broiling him alive.
WOLF CREEK 2 is just the crazy ride one hopes for in this ever affective horror genre but it’s the pervasive satire that you absorb in this vulnerable state that leaves an indelible mark.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Greg Mclean
Written by: Greg Mclean & Aaron Sterns
Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn, Phillipe Klaus, Gerard Kennedy, Annie Byron, Shane Connor, Ben Gerrard, Chloé Boreham