Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wolf Creek

(2005) ****

This gets billed as an Australian Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though I was thinking more Deliverance, but yeah, it's kind of the standard redneck psychopath preying on helpless young tourists out of their element.

In this case, three young friends leave the beach town they've been hanging out in for a cross outback roadtrip--the two girls are actually British tourists who've met up with a cute Aussie stud who buys a cheap car that the three will drive together. They stop at a famous crater named Wolf Creek (which is genuinely cool--couldn't believe I'd never heard of it before this movie),

 The eponymous crater. Very cool and beautifully shot by the cinematographer.

where they get abducted by a sociopathic goof who's like Steve Irwin playing an insane torturer. Oh, and this one is framed by those "Based on real events" titles. Not sure how legit that claim is though.

 Grunt like a kangaroo, boy!

Anyway, this is really quite well done across the board. In particular, the script and the performances are all excellent. Before the opening credits roll, there's a 10 minute prologue of the 3 young folks hanging out in their beach town, sort of saying goodbye to this paradise. And in just that 10 minutes, the director does a fantastic job of humanizing them and fleshing them all out as unique three-dimensional figures. Part of this is the directorial style, especially in this early section, where he almost pulls a Robert Altman. There's lots of snippets of conversations, half audible exchanges, etc. So it's sort of hyper-realistic and yet altogether, they do create the feeling that you're sort of eavesdropping in on three real people.And importantly, they all come across as likeable.

Surprisingly un-douchey kids.

This of course all pays off in a big way when they finally get caught up in Crocodile Dundee hell about an hour into the movie. You care about what happens to these kids, and then they run into this scene chewing maniac. The whole setup is plausible and horrifying. I got to thinking about some risks I've taken when traveling in foreign countries and how vulnerable I really was at times. Freaky.

This isn't to say it's a perfect movie though. There's a classic stupid move where they've got the guy down and out but neglect to finish him off with the many weapons at their disposal.There's also a scene late in the movie where one chick has broken back into the psycho's compound to steal a car and she basically gets sidetracked by the discovery of a bunch of loot the guy has stolen from other tourists over the years. And by sidetracked, I mean in the way we get when we say, try to clean up a room and come across a photo album that then leads to a half hour of flipping through pictures, digging out other old books, etc. The room never gets cleaned, and what do you know, the chick doesn't make it out of the garage.

Still, definitely worth checking out overall.


JPX said...

This film is excellent. After watching it I researched the real story online. I don't remember what I learned except that the film is pure fiction. I'll do a little digging...

Excellent summary!

Catfreeek said...

Yeah, I really liked it as well. Terrific review.

Landshark said...

JPX, did you see where it was inspired by 2 different murder cases? Check out the Backpacker Murders story. Dude is serving time for killing some backpackers in the 90s. Just this year, his nephew copycatted his uncle's crime and had a friend record it on video. Ah, genetics.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Yikes! I love this movie too.

I look back fondly on that brief period where mad hillbillies ruled the horror world. Wolf Creek, The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning was a 1-2-3 knockout punch.

AC said...

sounds great, and thanks for tipping us off the on the problem areas.

DCD said...

Another one I remember wanting to check out after reading JPX's review. You are on fire this year, Landshark!

Octopunk said...

"I mean in the way we get when we say, try to clean up a room and come across a photo album that then leads to a half hour of flipping through pictures, digging out other old books, etc." Ha! Nice.

This always gets such high praise, but man do I hate hillbilly hostage situations. I'm seriously going to lump them all into one Hillbilly Horrorthon some year (not setting a date).