Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wolf Creek

Title: Wolf Creek (2005)
Dir: Greg McLean
Rating: ** and 1/2 out of 5 stars

Man, it hasn't been a good couple of years for Australian horror. While not nearly as bad as Undead, this movie did let me down. Majorly.

I can sum up my review of Wolf Creek with the following statement: The movie did nothing that Hostel and High Tension didn't already do better.

In short, the plot involved three Australian backpackers who venture into the outback. When their car breaks down, they get a lift from a stranger who obviously turns out to be a nutjob who likes to rape, torture, and murder people. And that's it.

I don't have a problem with the simplicity of a plot like that. Honeslty, I don't. But unfortunately, that wasn't enough for McLean, who devoted the first 55 minutes (over half the film) to nothing but the backpackers' roadtrip. Basically the most boring fucking half-a-movie EVER. Unlike Hostel, this long introduction to the characters had absolutely no purpose. It didn't set the viewer up to like or dislike them, really. All it did was BORE me.

Adding insult to injury, there are some moments that are so incredibly pointless they hurt my brain. For instance, the trio spend time pondering a giant meteor crater. Since there are no meterorites or aliens in this Aussie horror, this had absolutely no point other than to say, "Look, we really are filming in Wolf Creek, Australia!" Then for no apparent reason all of their watches stop. Related to the crater, perhaps? Do not know. And DO NOT CARE. How is this relevant to anything? I thought this would somehow work its way into the plot later, but no.

Okay, so I'll touch on the good aspects. Once the ball actually gets rolling, there is some entertainment to be had. John Jarrett isn't the groundbreaking villain that Tarantino hypes him up to be, but he is pretty amusing and scary. Apparently he used to host a home and garden show in Australia. Maybe if I was familiar with that, I'd have appreciated him more - kinda like seeing Martha Stewart play a homicidal maniac. Nevertheless, he becomes a despicable fellow (which is good) and occasionally his torments are pretty funny. Oh, and his laugh is creepy.

I didn't care much for the leads. They were victims, I guess that's enough. The film packed at least one good mini-twist that I liked. As for the deaths - a few good, most disappointing. The one torture scene in the movie never really reached the point of torture, plus it started feeling more like Devil's Rejects or some crap like that.

There were only a handful of potential victims in this movie, so the variety of killings was understandably lacking. What horror the movie actually had was generally pretty good. If they had just chopped off everything prior to the trio meeting the killer, it could've been pretty good, albeit nothing new.

As I said, even its best moments were nothing that other movies hadn't already done better in the past year alone! The story of naive backpackers getting killed was covered pretty well by Hostel, plus that packed a moral point. The sheer brutality that Creek aims for was covered so much better in High Tension, as was the central female character who must save her friend(s).

My recommendations would follow the order: High Tension --> Hostel --> Wolf Creek. If after watching one or two, you still would like some more gory violence, then sure, check out Creek. Of the three, it at least has a solid, single villain you can enjoy/hate. But take my advice and fast forward through the first half.