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Wolf Creek 2

A cheaper, more predictable yet somehow nastier kind of carnage is at work in Wolf Creek 2.
By Tom Clift
February 22, 2014
By Tom Clift
February 22, 2014

Proving that the Australian film industry isn't immune to the sequelitis that has plagued American horror franchises for decades, director Greg McLean has teamed back up with star John Jarratt for a follow-up to their stomach-turning 2005 sleeper hit, Wolf Creek. Not unsurprisingly, the result feels very much like a cash grab. A film no one was asking for, Wolf Creek 2 trades the raw, taboo-shattering violence of its predecessor for a cheaper, more predictable yet somehow nastier kind of carnage.

The difference between the two films becomes obvious almost immediately. Although notorious for the graphic tortures inflicted on its backpacking protagonists, the original Wolf Creek actually runs for almost an hour before the first drop of blood is even spilled. Prior to that, McLean spends his time getting us to care about his characters, making their eventual demise, at the hands of Jarratt's Akubra-wearing serial killer, that much more distressing.

In comparison, Wolf Creek 2 puts the villain front and centre, allowing him his first kill before we even see a title card. Focusing on the killer is a standard move for a horror sequel, and seems all the more logical here in light of Jarratt's fantastic performance. A blood-soaked ocker stereotype from hell (with a sick sense of humour to match), killer Mick Taylor is a cinematic sadist for the ages; his menacing chortle sends shivers down your spine, even as his profane, xenophobic rants strike savagely at the heart of so-called Australian values.

But while Jarratt's performance is the sequel's best feature, his character's increased role is also its biggest problem. Unlike in the first film, McLean never bothers to flesh out Taylor's prey, which this time consists of two Germans and a Pom. Conversely, Taylor is clearly the character that viewers are meant to be most excited to see. At times, it even feels like we're meant to root for him, which I found difficult to reconcile with the fact that he's a murderer and a rapist. Wolf Creek was effectively shocking because it made no attempt to make its violence entertaining. Wolf Creek 2 does just that, making it a far more exploitative film.

This might be less of a sticking point if the movie was actually scary. But it's not — just intermittently gory. Most of the film consists of Taylor chasing his helpless quarry through the outback, their capture or grizzly death (probably both) a glum inevitability. Things briefly get interesting in the film's final third, when McLean finally rediscovers the notion that terror comes not just from violence, but from the threat of it. But by then it's too little, too late.

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