‘Tie me Kangaroo Down’ A Review of Wolf Creek 2 (2013).
**WARNING: CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS**
Slashing its way onto DVD and Blu-Ray this summer is the eagerly-awaited sequel to the popular yet brutal Australian shocker, Wolf Creek (2005). Director Greg Mclean returns to continue the murderous exploits of Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) in the film that he began developing as early as 2010, its delay purely down to some funding issues which held back initial production. Still emphasizing the ‘Based on True Events’ angle to bring in the added fear factor, Wolf Creek 2 incorporates a more fast-paced tone in comparison to its predecessor. The body count is bigger and Mick shows us once again that he pulls no punches when it comes to slaughtering unwitting tourists travelling through the Australian outback.
To its credit, setting itself apart from the original works in its favour rather than re-hashing the exact same events the first outing, that said on occasions it does play it safe with nods to the first film. This time round Mick goes straight in for the kill, with the focus on numerous victims from Germany to Britain, all unfortunate to cross his deadly path. The xenophobic mad man’s main target is Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr), an unknowing young man who unluckily stumbles upon one of Mick’s latest victims, he falls straight into his blood soaked hands and becomes terrorized in a violent game of cat and mouse (with added Kangaroo’s!).
Jarratt’s performance is one again larger than life, he clearly has fun with the role as the sadistic serial killer with a side of a sense of humour. Its clear the direction Mclean seems to be taking his creation in, a modern horror icon in the league of Leatherface and Jason Voorhees, a hack-happy, unmerciful killer that continually defies the odds! However in the post-modern world of horror, having the killer unmasked with a menacing personality creates a more horrifying effect demonstrating the killer is just as much human. Its apparent that Mclean intends us to root for Mick, a conception that’s often referred to as “Freddy Kruger meets Crocodile Dundee”.
Jarratt single-handedly carries the film that has an interesting balance of dark comedy, splatter, grotesque violence and suspense. On the down-side, there is too much packed in, characters are introduced but become difficult to get invested in due to the rapid, slasher approach it unashamedly takes. Corr’s performance as Paul comes across as emotive at times enabling the audience to develop a sense of empathy for him and root for his escape. Where the film becomes problematic is using the ‘Based on True Events’ aspect. As stated understandably it plays on fears, ‘this could potentially happen to you’, but with brutally graphic scenes and close ups of bodies being cut up to shreds without any focus on a sense of justice it becomes uncomfortable viewing, particularly when you throw in the hammy nature of Mick’s one-liners used for comedic effect. In the original, there was distressing moment where the film toys with the idea of sexual violence towards women and the same is done here, providing a major conflict in tone that leaves viewers questioning “is this still a black comedy right now?”.
Another conflict at play on a personal note is on one hand using male protagonists in place of ‘the final girl’ in these films is a refreshing take; however at the same time it does put the female characters in a light where they’re just disposable victims rather than portraying both genders on an equal level.
Interestingly, back in 2005, Wolf Creek was unfortunately placed in the the tabloid-coined ‘torture porn’ category for horror films at the time, without real warrant for it. The sequel however seems to play up to the label in a tongue-in-cheek manner, especially with the drawn out, intensely funny bargaining sequence toward the film’s final act.
In a review earlier this year where I looked at my most eagerly-anticipated films of 2014, Wolf Creek 2 was on the list. I had reservations as to whether a sequel to a modern genre classic was necessary but was willing to make an exception if it had something different to offer. Sadly, Wolf Creek 2 is no more than a standard Ozploitation, splatter-fest, but in several ways it comes across as enjoyable enough with some clever suspense techniques thrown into the mix so its not entirely predictable. Worth a watch for fans of the original and for a casual viewing.
Hayley Alice Roberts.