31 Screams in October, Vol. 3, #21: Wolf Creek (2005)

Posted: October 26, 2016 in Movie Review
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21. Wolf Creek (2005)

Director: Greg McLean

Starring: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips

At what point do we stop and ask ourselves when what we’re watching is no longer entertainment? The answer changes depending on whom you ask. I can watch some of the most brutal horror films out there. I can watch last Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead.” No problem. I don’t even mind when the bad guy wins. Horror almost demands it. But then you have movies like 2005’s “Wolf Creek,” which presents you with a plot that is so irritatingly stupid that the fast forward button becomes your best friend.

Set in Australia in 1999 (so you’ll know that it’s “based on actual events”), Liz Hunter (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy Earl (Kestie Morassi) are two English citizens on a backpacking trip with Australian friend Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips). The movie wastes its first 10 to 13 minutes on a prologue showing these friends partying before the trip. Already, “Wolf Creek” is trying your patience. Skipping ahead, the group makes their way to Wolf Creek National Park, where they have a giant crater to gawk at. Liz and Ben also use this time to get close to one another, but don’t think for an instant that any of this fraternizing is going to matter.

When they get back to their car, they notice that both the car itself and all of their watches have stopped working. Resigned to spending the night in their dead car, the trio notices a truck coming from the other direction. The driver, a man named Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), offers to tow their car back to his garage for repairs. Despite the fact that this will take them in the complete opposite direction from where they had intended to go (and despite understandable apprehension), the friends agree. Very stupid.

Sitting around a campfire, Mick has several stories to tell which leaves the girls feeling a bit unsettled. Trust your instincts, ladies! This nice man then offer the trio some water, which they take without hesitation. It is, of course, drugged. Liz wakes up the next day, bound and gagged. It takes hours, but Liz finally frees herself and is just about to run off. But then she hears Kristy screaming as she is being tortured by Mick. She sets her car on fire to distract him long enough to cut Kristy’s bonds, but Mick returns soon after. Liz gets the drop on him, shooting him in the neck. Of course, the thing to do next would be to shoot him again while he’s down. Instead, Liz and Kristy leave Mick there and steal his truck.

Mick is, of course, not dead, and gives chase in one of the other multiple cars he’s collected over time. In their haste to put some distance between them and Mick, Liz and Kristy almost run off the edge of a cliff. Instead of backing the truck up and finding a new path to take, they get out of the truck and push it down the cliff. Now without a means of escape, Liz knows that it’s only a matter of time before Mick figures out that they weren’t in the truck when it crashed. She then decides to go back to Mick’s garage on her own to find another vehicle.

Liz’s plan might be a good one provided she wastes no time in collecting a new car. So of course she diddles around, looking at the piles of possessions from previous victims, which includes video cameras (one of which is Ben’s). For some reason, she has to watch the film on them as well. Even if she had found a car with a key already in the ignition, there stood a pretty good chance that Mick was going to head back to the garage and catch her in the act. But all of Liz’s time-wasting BS simply ensured that, by the time she got one of the cars started, there Mick would be in the backseat waiting to stab her. Furious about his truck, Mick slices off three fingers from Liz’s left hand, headbutts her, and then severs her spinal cord.

Off-screen, Mick is able to extract info from Liz regarding the whereabouts of Kristy, whom he tracks down and shoots dead on the highway, along with an innocent bystander with a car, burning the evidence as he drives away. Some time later, Ben is able to escape and reach help, severely dehydrated. The credits reveal that no evidence of either Liz or Kristy was ever found, and that Ben himself was eventually cleared of any suspicion. As for Mick himself, he continues to remain at-large.

Despite the fact that actor John Jarratt gives a genuinely terrifying performance as Mick, it does nothing to distract from the fact that “Wolf Creek” is an extremely frustrating movie. I don’t expect that Mick’s victims could ever act rationally when under the degree of stress that his presence commands. But what I do expect is for a person’s will to survive to result in quick decisions. Doesn’t matter if they’re the right ones or not. Just act like your life depends on it, for goodness sake! So… yeah… “Wolf Creek” is most decidedly not a movie I enjoy all that much.

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