Monday, May 11, 2020

WOLF CREEK 2 (2013) Blu-ray Review

Wolf Creek 2 (2013) d. Greg McLean (Australia) (106 min)

In 2005, audiences were introduced to Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) stalking tourists in writer/director McLean’s supremely nasty and well-executed slice of suspense and pain, based on Australia’s notorious “backpacker murders.” The young filmmaker’s debut outraged mainstream critics who ignored the slow-burn character development, palpable disorientation, excruciating suspense, and late great cinematographer Will Gibson’s breathtaking lensing of the bucolic Outback vistas, focusing their ire on the admittedly brutal third act of young bodies being bloodied and broken. Horror fans, however, immediately identified one of their own, embracing McLean and his psychotic creation with open arms.

Eight years later, McLean (Rogue, The Belko Experiment) and Jarratt are back, with a sequel that puts the mutton-chopped maniac center stage, still offing unfortunate vacationers (and pretty much everybody else that crosses his path). However, despite the films sharing a common pedigree and abundantly gory set-pieces, tonally they couldn’t be further apart.

By making Mick the ostensible hero instead of the boogeyman lurking in the shadows, viewers are asked to identify with the monster instead of being horrified by his cheerful sadism. That may sit just fine with some fans, who thrilled at the presence of a new horror icon for the millennium, but for someone who genuinely appreciated the fact that McLean was willing to take the time to introduce three likable young protagonists, and then draw out the misery as they were individually bested by the Malevolent Madman in the Bush, the shift is jarring to say the least.

In fact, the sequel almost plays as a mirror image to its predecessor, with an opening 30 minutes of body-count mayhem before slowing things down (a bit) for an hour-long cat-and-mouse session with Mick’s most resourceful quarry (Ryan Corr). Along the way, we are treated to some stellar action Road Warrior-inspired action sequences, more glorious Travel Channel-worthy views of the landscape courtesy of DP Toby Oliver (Happy Death Day, Get Out), a well-crafted (computer generated) mass kangaroo roadkill sequence, and an impromptu quiz on Australian history.

Genre vet Jarratt (Next of Kin) is in fine form, giggling and sniggering his way throughout, and he’s certainly given more dimension this time around; by contrast, we learn nearly nothing about his victims before they are dismembered, making them merely grist for the blood mill. Even more puzzling, the final two minutes of the sequel are identical to its forerunner, as though the creators thought, “Well, hell, it worked the first time.” (What up with that, Greg?)

In the same way that Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre seemed intent on showcasing the very things critics had decried, Wolf Creek 2 doubles down on its most notorious bits, potentially alienating fans of the original in the process. I’m inclined to say that if you weren’t a fan of Wolf Creek’s deliberate pace and vicious streak and are looking instead for a splatter flick quick of pace and light of brain, this might just fit the bill.

Trivia: A Wolf Creek television series followed in 2016, with Jarratt once again in the main role, running for two years and 12 episodes.


Butcher's Cut: Deleted Scenes (24 min)

Creating a Monster: The Making of Wolf Creek 2 (52 min)

Wolf Creek 2 is available now on Blu-ray from RLJ Entertainment/Image and can be ordered on a variety of retail platforms.


No comments:

Post a Comment