Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wolf Creek

Counter programming... gotta love it!

With all the huge mega budget blockbusters that are always released during the holiday season it's nice to see a film that had virtually no budget and still manages to entertain and be better than most of the major Hollywood films.

Wolf Creek is loosely based off true events that took place in Australia a while back. Three friends, Ben (Nathan Phillips), Kristie (Kestie Morassi) and Liz (Cassandra Magrath), who are taking a road trip through the Australian outback, make a stop at the meteorite crater at Wolf Creek. Once there their car dies. A mysterious but helpful stranger, Mick (John Jarratt), happens to be in the area and offers to take their car to his place to get fixed. Once there he drugs the trio and much depravity ensues.
I'm not going to go into details here in order to save some surprises for when you see the film, but trust me, it's one truly fucked up ride of a movie.

The flick is a cross between The Blair Witch Project and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that it doesn't feel like you're watching a movie, but a documentary style slice of these character's lives. There are no true lighting set-ups, no real shot compositions or great sound mix. It’s guerilla filmmaking at its best, and it adds to the mood of the film in ways that you cannot describe. You feel like you're there with the characters.
The acting is amazing all around. I never once felt like I was watching a small troupe of actors playing these characters. They were these characters in the same way that the ones in Blair Witch Project seemed so real. After growing accustomed to the heavy Aussie accents I began to really like the characters and that's a rare thing in a horror film these days. Most characters are just there to be killed, but here we give a damn and root for them to stay alive because we've learned a lot about them in such a short space of time and they're a likeable bunch. And they're not stupid. They react in ways that you most likely would if you were faced with this totally messed up situation.

As charming and harmless as John Jarratt's Mick comes across at first, he is truly frightening and menacing in the last chunk of the film due to his subtle performance. He's not overly theatrical like most horror movie villains, sure he cusses a lot, but he likes to tease and taunt his victims in ways that are more cruel than what he ends up doing to them with his knife and sniper rifle. He never cracks dumb one liners (except his Crocodile Dundee line which doesn't come off as funny, but disturbing) or explains his motives, something that I admired a great deal. He's a great addition to the list of classic film villains.
Director Greg McLean keeps the actors at the forefront of the film and the camera never looks away during any of the nasty bits. It may be a horror film, but it's never about gore, but about survival. He makes the entire film up close and personal, regardless if it's the character scenes early in the film or the stalking scenes later on. I think he's going to be the new Wes Craven if his work continues to be this good.

I can't recommend this film enough. It's a breath of fresh air in a world of lame ass remakes and PG-13 horror films. It's harsh, brutal and at times very upsetting. Just what a horror movie should be.

4.5 out of 5

*written 12/26/05

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