Wolf Creek
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Greg McLean
with John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips, Andy McPhee, Aaron Sterns, Guy Petersen, Gordon Poole, Jenny Starwall
release UK 16.Sep.05,
US 18.Nov.05
05/Australia 1h39

Lost in the Outback: Phillips - above, and with Magrath and Morassi, below.

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Wolf Creek Loosely based on a true story from the Australian outback in 1999, this film develops slowly from a road movie into one of the most viciously nasty horror thrillers in recent memory. But the extreme grisliness is purely gratuitous.

Liz, Kristy and Ben (Magrath, Morassi and Phillips) have a big blowout party in Broome before starting on their cross-country drive, during which they visit Wolf Creek National Park, site of a massive meteor crater. Various lively adventures and romantic entanglements ensue and, when their car dies on them, they're rescued by Mick (Jarratt), a Crocodile Dundee-esque Outback bloke. But they wake up the next morning to a whole new world of horror. If anyone gets out alive it'll be a miracle.

This final fact jeopardises the film's "true story" credentials. Or maybe this is an Open Water-style tale in which everything that follows has been pieced together from the evidence. On the other hand, as it progresses we can sense that it will either turn into a Blair Witch scare-a-thon or a Texas Chainsaw Massacre slaughter-fest. And indeed, it does go down one of these routes. And it's gut-wrenchingly awful to watch--horrifyingly violent, stomach-churningly gruesome and soaked in inevitable tragedy.

It's also extremely well-filmed--the photography is simply gorgeous, from the sun-drenched beach to the sun-baked bush. And the action is impeccably staged in a startlingly realistic way, while the script drops little hints as to what's in store--missing people, UFOs, the need for food, water and warm clothing in the Outback. Charming and relaxed performances add to the disarming ambience. And all of this combines to slowly build a horrible sense of dread long before anything bad actually happens.

But when it goes wrong, it goes unspeakably wrong. The film's final hour is staggeringly ghastly. And McLean includes far too much detail. It's so intense that we're unable to breathe, longing like the characters for it to end soon. It also feels strangely irresponsible to call this a true story. Perhaps this is McLean's idea of a joke, but families of people who have gone missing will never sleep again. Nor will many others who see this.

cert 18 themes, language, extreme violence 2.Aug.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
Wolf Creek Pete Dixon, London: 1/5 "I knew it was a horror but I didn't expect to see women being raped and tortured. It wasn't really a horror - just an exercise in bad taste. Looked like the camera was loving it too, which was what made me walk out. How do films this bad ever get made?" (13.Sep.05)

jason wingard, UK: 4.5/5 "A superior horror film for all those who long for non-formulaic Hollywood trash." (14.Sep.05)

Sacha, Sydney: 4.5/5 "I thought this movie was the scariest and best horror movie I've ever seen. I'm a fan of the genre and it takes a lot to scare me, and having said that, if you're a bit squeamish and don't like slasher flicks then give this one a miss because it will give you nightmares. On the other hand if you can handle the violence in movies such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre then this is a must see. In fact, this film was based on a series of true stories of backpacker murders thoughout Australia. Having read the newspapers, I can certainly see the similarities with events in the movie as well as character references. To me, the lead character played by John Jarrat is a definite attempt at echoing the east-coast Australian backpacker murderer Ivan Malat, now in jail for life." (15.Sep.05)

Wolf Creek Wendy, UK: 1/5 "After being led to believe that this is a true story, the horror and experiences shown in the film are too real. I enjyed the charecter build up and the general scene setting but found the film to be a frightening insight into the mind of a film maker. The film left the audience in stunned silence at what they had witnessed. There was absolute quiet as we all filed out of the cinema. I felt shocked by what I saw and wasn't entertained, enlightened or educated by it." (19.Sep.05)

Melanie, UK: 5/5 "its horrible, but brilliant all at once. its about time the horror genre got realistic as we all know this kind of thing, as much as it sickens me to think about, does happen. its painful but beautiful to watch at the same time. a masterpiece. however, i do feel that its very insensitive to people who have friends and family that have gone missing and the whole 'true story' part isn't very nice." (26.Oct.05)

Wolf Creek Serena Cole, Western Australia: 5/5 "I have never before had nightmares following the viewing of any horror or thriller movie - until i saw Wolf Creek! Almost unbearable to watch, I sat squirmishly almost breaking BOTH of my boyfriends hands whilst watching. Undoubtedly the scariest, most greusome series of events i have ever seen on screen. I travelled around Australia last year in very much the same manner as the characters in this film, and couldnt help but think 'my god, i wish i had been more careful, that could have been me'. As the director of the film obviously knew, backpackers often let their guard down in Australia as we have been voted the 'friendliest nation in the world', which has fair grounds - but you never know where there's a psychopath on the loose. I found this to be an educational film, and do recommend future travellers to view it (if you can handle it). Congratulations to the director and writer, you nailed it! events that have happened and may well happen again if we travel bugs arent careful!" (11.Nov.05)

Simon, Sydney: 3.5/5 "I went to see this film because I wanted to escape my thoughts for an hour or so. I got a bit more than i bargined for! The film lays a good grounding giving you a good feel for the characters. I felt that the whole backpacker drinking thing was a bit over done. This took away the grittiness and added unwanted hollywood. I'm not sure if this film was meant to be a true story or not? it did however put the fear of god in me. The violence is ultra real and it really makes you wonder about some of the people in this world. When I left the cinema my mind was emptied of my original thoughts and filled with new fears. I wont be going outback for a while!" (23.Nov.05)

Wolf Creek Hack, US: 1/5 "Unless you get off on watching young women being mutilated, don't go see this movie. Yes, this film deviates from typical LA garbage, but only in the sense that there's nothing to it." (27.Dec.05)

Misty, net: "Is the worst film of the year. The movie was poorly researched, no true facts, waste of time and money." (28.Dec.05)

mimi, salisbury, md: 1/5 "There were only about 10 people in theater total. about 5 people left before the end of the movie and i know why. my husband and i stuck around hoping it would get better but it didn't. i am a horror movie queen and i must say this was horrible. i suggest anyone considering going to see this movie to save your money or see something else." (30.Dec.05)

Wolf Creek ben steiner, london: 1.5/5 "who cares if it's real or not - it was deeply unoriginal, particularly endebted to texas chainsaw massacre, and didn't scare me at all. gore isn't scary - it's a special effect, and the villain was a joke. there were a couple of good directorial flourishes, like the snipers bullet through the thermos - but overall, this film is as dry as the outback." (3.Jan.06)

m reagor, net: "Absolutely the worst and most stupid movie I have ever seen. I was embarrassed that it even made into a major theatre, but I was troubled that I could pay nine dollars and get ripped off like I did. The producers of this movie should go to jail." (7.Jan.06)

Archie, uk: 5/5 "bloody great film got me scared! erm is that not what horrors are meant to do? yup i think so, well then great! very graphic film, some stunning camera shots of beautiful skies and sun drenched outback, actors played the parts really well. its a very realistic horror and not a kinda made-up-too-much silliness fiction-filled nonsense horror type film. i enjoyed it enough to write this down." (17.Jan.06) Wolf Creek

jennifer, Buffalo, New York: 5/5 "worth seeing and pretty disturbing, yet overall great! Some of the geographical scenes were beautiful! It takes alot to scare me and I am always looking for a good horror flick and this was definately a good horror flick!" (13.Jan.06)

Vicki, Australia: 5/5 "I loved it right from the start. John Jarrat played a fantastic part in this movie & I was even scared, put me on the edge of the seat & I love horror. Great to see Aussies put out such a great horror movie." (24.Jan.06)

Marco, UK: 5/5 "Highly educational, extremely provoking movie that should serve as a milestone to all backpackers out there who feel that Australia (or any other country, for that mather) is a paradise. Be careful when you travel. It should serve as a lesson to all parents to think twice before letting their children out in the world." (26.Jan.06)

Jo, York, UK: 4.5/5 "I thought this film was bloody great even if it was a bit gorey. I'm not a huge fan of horror flicks as a rule but I loved the build up of tension in this and the characters were believable right from the start. It was one of those films that you're still thinking about a couple of weeks later." (9.Apr.06) Wolf Creek

Jordan, England: "I thought this film would be scary seen as it was a horror! I get scared very very easily and even this film didnt scare me! i was crap! one of the worst horror movies i had ever seen! then it said that it was a true story so i looked it up and its got nothing to do with the story its supposedly linked to!" (9.Apr.06)

2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall