Thursday, August 21, 2014

#1,466. Wolf Creek (2005) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: Greg Mclean

Starring: Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi

Tag line: "The Thrill Is In The Hunt"

Trivia: Portions of this movie were set at the site of an actual meteor strike, which crashed to earth thousands of years ago

During its opening credits, Wolf Creek, a 2005 horror import from Australia, claims to be based on true events. After looking into it further, it appears the film actually draws from several real-life cases: the notorious “Backpack Murders” of the 1990s as well as a more recent episode in which a British tourist and his girlfriend were kidnapped in the Northern Territory. 

Truth be told, I was kind of happy to learn that no single incident inspired this movie. The thought of a guy like Mick Taylor being out there, roaming the Australian Outback, is enough to keep you awake at night.

In the small beachside resort of Broome, British pals Liz (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy (Kestie Morassi) meet local boy Ben (Nathan Phillips), who agrees to drive them to Queensland. Along the way, the three decide to stop off at a remote tourist site known as Wolf Creek, where, tens of thousands of years ago, a giant meteor crashed to earth, leaving behind one hell of a crater. 

After taking in the sights, the trio returns to their car, only to find that it won’t start. Afraid they might have to spend the night in the middle of nowhere, they are relieved when Mick Taylor (John Jarrett) shows up and agrees to tow their vehicle back to his place, where he has the necessary parts to fix it. 

But as the friends will soon discover, Mick is no ordinary mechanic, and his motives are much more sinister than they could have possibly imagined.

While the claim that it's "based on true events" may be a bit suspect, there really is a place in Western Australia called Wolf Creek (though it’s spelled “Wolfe Creek”), a National Park that is, indeed, home to one of the largest meteor craters in the world. The filmmakers took full advantage of this natural wonder, which is as imposing as it is picturesque. Yet, impressive though it may be, the crater isn’t what you’re going to remember when thinking back on Wolf Creek. What stays with you is the character of Mick Taylor, the boisterous Aussie with a "thing" for torture. 

Those moments when Mick, expertly portrayed by Jarrett, is doing what he does best are gruesome, to say the least (the “head on a stick” scene always makes me cringe). Yet what makes Mick truly horrifying is how friendly and affable he seemed at the outset, when he offered to tow the friends' car and fix it for free. Whenever I watch this sequence, I can’t help but put myself in the three eventual victim's shoes, and every single time I come to the same conclusion: I, too, would have gone with Mick Taylor. I’d have gladly let him tow my car, and thanked him when he offered me a drink of water once we got to his place. Which, of course, means I would have been in a hell of a pickle a few hours later.

This is what makes Wolf Creek such an effective horror film. Over the years, movies have made us think twice before doing many things, including going into the water (Jaws), picking up hitchhikers (The Hitcher), or strolling into an unfamiliar house (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). 

The lesson in Wolf Creek? You can't always trust a Good Samaritan. But what if you're in a fix and a Good Samaritan is exactly what you need? 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great film - very unsettling, and as you say, it works because you can imagine coming across this kind of person and not realizing what is to come...