Wolf Creek 2


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

John Jarret in Wolf Creek 2
"John Jarrett dominates every scene in which he appears and quite a few in which he doesn't."

Mick's back, says the tagline, and so he is, in a finely staged opening scene that sees the jovial outback butcher having a run-in with two cops who want to give him a speeding ticket. It's a scene that invites viewers to sympathise with him, setting him up as an anti-hero, and of course, for those who have seen the first film, the appeal of this is stronger because he's the character we know. This interestingly structured film will shift our sympathies several times, however, as it moves from one character to another, often shifting styles as it does so. Like Hitchcock's Psycho, it aims to remind us that nobody is indispensible yet keep us wanting to see what happens next.

In developing a sequel as hungrily anticipated as this, it's often a good idea to shift genre, to approach it from a fresh angle so as to avoid the all too common weaker copy of the original. Here, writer/director Mclean brings in much more overt comedy at the expense of some of the menace. There are interesting aspects to it, however. Whereas the original savaged the twee Crocodile Dundee archetype that constitutes so many people's image of Australians, this film turns its satire on the loveable serial killing rogue archetype, something that it seems some genre fans find harder to swallow.

Copy picture

Characters like Mick have, in their own way, become every bit as lazy, and Wolf Creek 2 steadfastly refuses to buy into that trend, for all the money there is to be had from it. Instead we have a villain who is smart, witty, and for a certain time well positioned as a righteous working class avenger, but who is ultimately revealed to be just as banal as what he rails against - a small-minded racist thug lashing out at the world. In one brief moment when he feels his sexuality is being questioned, Mick actually loses it, and we get a glimpse of the fear that drives him just as it drives his prey. In another, his silencing of that prey leaves him standing, for a moment, lost for purpose. With no-one to intimidate, he has nothing to say. Without people to fear him, does he exist?

That the film pulls this off without ever undermining the sense of threat is largely thanks to the acting prowess of John Jarrett, who dominates every scene in which he appears and quite a few in which he doesn't. Here he adds to the charisma and sadistic edge he evinced in the first film with a subtler approach that gives Mick a lot more complexity. As then, the narrative plays tricks that hint at something supernatural, and there's a strong metaphorical aspect to the character, in the untamed interior of a country which shows no mercy to the uninitiated. Mick is the death that keeps on coming, but when we see a young German couple trying to hitchhike through the outback as if it were Western Europe, we can see death waiting for them in many places. Those who run risk dying in the desert, perhaps hundreds of miles from help. No civilised virtue has any meaning here, a theme Mclean has fun with when one character has to use his academic knowledge to stay alive.

The acting here is strong all round, with Ryan Corr, whose character is based on a real life individual who had a run-in with a man like Mick, proving an effective foil. The stories of two real life outback serial killers and some of their victims are blended to form the basis of the plot. The pacing isn't perfect and drags a little in the second half, when we move away from Mclean's take on Duel and into more conventional horror territory, but the formula stuff is handled well enough. What's more, by this point the surviving victim's sanity is clearly starting to fray, so we can't be certain how much of what we see is real, an approach that harks back to the troubling uncertainty in the first film's story.

All this may make it sound as if one needs to have seen the first film to appreciate Wolf Creek 2, but in fact it stands fairly well on its own - much better than the average horror sequel. There's some stunning use of landscape and cinematography that is as witty as it is pretty, though the eponymous crater doesn't quite live up to expectations. The young German couple are exhausted by the climb up to the rim. It's awesome, they tell each other. But they leave after five minutes, having made only the most cursory enquiry into its secrets, having thought not at all about the double meaning of that word.

Reviewed on: 27 Mar 2014
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Wolf Creek 2 packshot
Cops and tourists fall foul of an outback serial killer.

Director: Greg McLean

Writer: Greg McLean, Aaron Sterns

Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn, Philippe Klaus, Shane Connor, Ben Gerrard, Gerard Kennedy, Annie Byron, Lucy Bayet, ChloƩ Boreham, Sebastian Freeman, Ryan Clarke, Thomas Green, Maria Levskaia, Sarah Roberts

Year: 2013

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia

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