As per usual, there have been a great many moronic things said about this movie. Some critics have been offended by it, but don't let that make you think this is some sorta gorefest. The violence is intense and reasonably graphic, but it's certainly not gory in the conventional sense. I find it amusing that those who were offended by the film have more or less said that it was too horrifying, cause ya know, god forbid that someone actually be horrified by a horror movie. They've also said it is misogynistic, just like they've said about every other slasher movie ever. (Slasher movie isn't entirely appropriate for describing this, but it's as good as we'll get.) This is a particularly irritating complaint, first because they always say this, second because it's a bullcrap non-argument evasion intended to avoid any real analysis, and finally because it isn't true. In fact, it's even less true here than it usually is, cause the film doesn't make the killer into the hero. Yes, bad things happen to the women in this film, but we AREN'T supposed to be happy about it. And, of course, very bad things happen to men in the film as well, but who the hell cares about them anyway? Everyone knows that women are much, much more important than men. I also think it's interesting that the killer is a fat, greasy dude from out in the country, as they so often are in this sorta movie, yet it has not been accused of being bigoted against rural people, nor has any horror movie I've ever heard of. What a bizarre coincidence. Wonder why critics don't seem to care about those sorts of people. Maybe they really think that they all are killers. I dunno.
But, critical idiocy aside, this is a very nicely done horror film. The plot is simplicity itself- 3 youths are captured and tormented by a backwoods psychopath while vacationing near Wolf Creek in Australia. Subplots are rarely of interest in slasher films, and 'Wolf Creek' fortunately has none of them. Still, with the very small cast we get to know these characters quite a bit better than we usually would in a slasher film, and they are certainly far more likable than the hot young teens of the American slasher revival. (Of course that doesn't mean much, as said hot young teens are usually loathsome.)
'Wolf Creek' was really made on the cheap, only about 1 million bucks, I hear, and it's certainly got a rough, gritty look. Some people claim that grainy, DV films with handheld cameras are more realistic, which makes precisely no sense as life is not especially grainy, and I tend to hold my head fairly still. However, this technique can allow for a greater sorta intensity and physicality, which works well here. Despite the generally rough visuals, it's still got some rather beautiful cinematography at times, and the great Australian deserts are a fine backdrop for such events.
Yeah, the film does take a while to get going, certainly longer than is necessary, but seriously, are you guys all 3 years old or what? Go out in the lobby and drink your juice and then go potty, and then it'll almost be time for the killing to start. The acting is extremely good for a film with this kinda budget. The 3 leads all do a fine job, with some fairly authentic, if not exactly fascinating, casual banter in the first half of the film. Still, the second half is much more important, and they play it a bit different from most horror films, which is largely why this bothers so many critics. In most horror movies, none of the characters are ever authentically terrified. They're pretty nervous and jumpy and may let out a scream before they die, but they're pretty much in control. Not so here, as Magrath and Morassi spend much of the latter part of the movie in near hysterics, and are utterly convincing, with two of the finest performances of this sort since Marilyn Burns' classic turn in the original 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. John Jarrat is also excellent as the killer. They use a trick which is fairly common, in that we are introduced to him as if he were a normal character, who seems amiable enough, if a bit odd, and we then slowly see his violent side revealed. It's an old trick, but a good one, and it works especially well here, aided by his Australian accent, which are always inherently non-threatening to me, for some reason. He does get to be a bit wisecracking at times, but never to the point which he becomes the hero of the film.
Many will say this has an anticlimactic ending, and while I can't help but agree with this to some degree, it's also kind of interesting in that it is so different from what you'd usually see in this sorta film. The small cast also makes it quite a bit less predictable, as most slasher movies have the few central characters who will obviously survive, along with plenty of cannon fodder. With only 3 main characters there just aren't enough people to allow any meaningless little kills stuffed in at the beginning, and it's tougher to predict the order in which they will be offed.
Though I'm sure many of you are sick of hearing this, `Wolf Creek' really is a throwback to the more intense horror films of the 70's like `The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and `The Hills Have Eyes'. It's got an intensity and seriousness that is almost inevitably lacking from later slasher movies, and the old rough and violent feeling. As such, it certainly isn't for everyone, as many people seem to only like gentle, feel-good horror or conventional gorefests. But, it you've got a taste for something darker and more intense, `Wolf Creek' is definitely worth a look.
Grade: A- (This is after watching it again on DVD, and determining that it was even better than I'd thought initially. I'd change the rating to a 5, if I could.)