ReviewAway: Wolf Creek 2
Sequels are always built on unstable ground. From a film-makers perspective, there’s two distinct options: Make a film that attempts to follow the originals formula as closely as possible, or make a film that uses elements of the original, but goes in a different direction. There’s success to be found in both methods; Superman 2 was great because it was basically the same film as Superman, but better, and Aliens was fantastic because it went completely in its own direction using the source material from Alien as a base. But what happens when a director attempts both? A film that tries to imitate the original, while at the same time forging it’s own cinematic identity. Can such a film exist. Can a piece of film become a perfect work of duality? Can a piece of art be both be both the buttered and un-buttered side of a single piece of toast? Can it? CAN IT?
The short answer is “no”. The long answer is “Wolf Creek 2 can’t”. The sequel to one of the best film’s to come out of Australia in the past decade, Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek 2 attempts to recreate the intense gnawing fear the original is remembered for, whilst injecting a healthy dose of Mad Max-esque action into the mix. Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out to be a workable combination, and the film turns into a fairly forgettable slasher that doesn’t soak up the outback texture it surrounds itself with. If I could make a basic comparison, I’d say that Wolf Creek is an Australian film made by Australians, but Wolf Creek 2 is an Australian film made by Americans.
First, the good. What’s done good in Wolf Creek 2 is done great, namely the performance of John Jarratt as the films signature psychopath Mick Taylor, an outback Aussie with intimidatingly amazing sideburns who brutally tortures, rapes, and murders anyone who pisses him off for a variety of reasons. Jarratt’s performance is one of the few things that carry over from the original to this film, and in the beginning of the film, his intense and raw acting lifted my opinion of the film right away. Jarratt really melds with the character in the way that only a few actors do, and this comes through as the films main strength.Secondly, there’s the gore, Whilst not being as high in quantity as the original, the effects are quite well put together. The blood looks realistic, the cuts look realistic, the pain is well acted; overall, it’s a fairly believable experience in the violence department, even if it isn’t as plentiful as it was in the first film.
Now, the not so good. Unfortunately, this encompasses most of the remainder of the film. The pre-credits sequence is actually fairly good, and the after the opening we’re introduced to a pair of German backpackers travelling across the Australian Outback, in a sequence reminiscent of the pre-credits scene in the first film, then we’re introduced to our main character Paul (Played by Ryan Corr), in what appears to be a pre-credits sequence. This is really my main problem with the film, that it never really begins. The film tries to focus on the Mick Taylor character, whilst also having him as a cunning, sneaky villain. The result is a film in which the main character isn’t present on the screen half the time.
The film doesn’t put any effort into setting up an effective character for Mick to hunt, it just introduces a random guy with no back story. The reason the first film worked is because they set up the characters before they go to Wolf Creek, so we actually have a chance to empathise with the characters, making their torture and murder a little more effective at terrifying the audience. The first film also didn’t show the main villain off as a killer right away, building up quite a bit for the big reveal. This is why in my mind it was very difficult to make a Wolf Creek 2. Wolf Creek had great build-up because of the audience uncertainty of Mick’s character. Wolf Creek 2 can’t use the same idea, because we already know he’s a killer.
It seems like a lack of surprise would kill a thriller movie, and it does, but that’s really only the first nail in the coffin. The films biggest mistake is trying to insert random action sequences into the film. There’s so many chase scenes that just feel out of place within the confines of this film. Not only are they kinda pointless, they also don’t make any sense; There’s an extended chase sequence between a Semi-Trailer and a two seater Jeep in which the Semi-Trailer travels at the same speed and rams the Jeep. This really takes you out the film, mostly because it’s totally nonsensical, but also because it’s totally a unexpected angle for the film to take.
These odd Mad Max sequences couples with a lack of surprise takes away most of the power that the film could have had. Couple this with writing that’s just downright strange at points, completely one dimensional uninteresting characters, and enough space between the gore scenes to make the audience lose interest. the result is a film that’s not a gore-fest, not an action movie, and not a thriller, but pickings from all three blended beyond recognition.
OVERALL VERDICT: Wolf Creek 2 is a film that tries to be a lot of things, and doesn’t really achieve any of them. I wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone; It doesn’t have enough substance to appeal to a regular audience, and it’s not enough of a genre film to appeal to horror fans. I’d steer clear of this one.