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WOLF CREEK 2

SYNOPSIS:
The Australian outback is a favoured tourist attraction, especially for young backpackers from Europe and elsewhere. But is can also be a place of extreme danger as some young travellers discover to their horror, when they come into the ambit of crazed, serial-killing pig-shooter Mick Taylor (John Jarratt).

Review by Louise Keller:
There's a fine line between horror and torture porn and Wolf Creek 2 crosses the line, the narrative playing second fiddle to graphic, gruesome violence with questionable justification. Greg McLean's sequel is filled with unrelenting terror, but the suspense that was so effective in his 2005 original film that made its controversial debut at Director's Fortnight in Cannes, has been relegated to an ugly shock-filled, torture porn fest filled with depravity.

McLean's directing talents are not in question and his ability to tease his audience - just as John Jarratt's Mick Taylor taunts his prey - is plainly displayed throughout. His sensibility in developing the screenplay (penned with Aaron Sterns) is more in question: a better film does not necessarily result from an onslaught of excesses and using the racism card is not always successful. The expansion of Mick from a red-neck with violent tendencies to a self-professed vigilante protecting Australia from 'foreign vermin' takes one step too far. As for Jarratt, the greater embodiment of insanity and evil in his knife-yielding character is pushed to the max, albeit offering a terrifying and indelible characterisation which makes the skin crawl and is sure to keep the vulnerable awake at night.

McLean uses the vast, barren Australian landscape effectively (Toby Oliver's cinematography is excellent), establishing the isolated setting from the outset. An unsettling soundscape and music too, is well used by its juxtapositions and the road kill sequence involving splattered kangaroos is one in which black humour may outrage beyond making its point. The film's constantly rising and falling dramatic arc is one of its strong points - the way hopes are raised before quickly being dashed makes for ongoing nail-biting tension. The scene in which Ryan Corr's British tourist begins to spout limericks in a bid to appease his captor is well devised and executed and the mood created by the setting of Mick's 'lair' is exceptional.

Unlike the original film in which we are allowed to connect with the central characters and join them on their journey of terror, the blood letting begins without character establishment. This means there is much less at stake. We cannot empathise with the two bored highway patrol officers who want to book Mick for speeding even though he is under the speed limit and there is little to warm us to the German tourist couple. As a result, Wolf Creek 2 plays out as violence for violence's sake. I could not wait to have a shower to wash off the grime.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
What filmmaker Greg McLean does really well is suspense, as he demonstrated in his breakout feature Wolf Creek (2005). In that film he successfully upped the horror wattage by using cinematic tools of suspense - as well as graphic visuals. Wolf Creek 2 is less successful for two key reasons.

The first is the screenplay's straying into self parody, possibly unintentionally, but nonetheless to the film's detriment. This is manifested in both screenplay content and action execution - if you'll pardon the grisly pun. The overstating and self awareness of several scenes play against the horror elements, even though the aforementioned suspense kicks in.

The second error of judgment, in my view, is the looser rein on Mick Taylor's character, which allows John Jarratt to 'act like a maniac', occasionally sneer and laugh like one, too. The character hardly needs embellishment; his actions, his brooding presence, his monster trucks and his psychotic motivation to eradicate people from elsewhere other than Australia, are plenty enough.

The young travellers are suitably amiable and handsome to quickly bond with the audience prior to their unhappy departure. There is more than some grue ....

Based on real events as it is, the film ends on a strangely dislocated note, followed by text cards that explain the origins of the Wolf Creek stories; it doesn't quite satisfy.

By contrast, the film begins with a very strong and satisfying sequence which shows Mick's cold blooded willingness to have fun while killing. This scene establishes the character instantly, so newbies to the budding franchise will know all that's essential to know. The other element that is shown off here is Toby Oliver's instinctively artful cinematography, which is both naturalistic and slightly manipulated. Later in the film he captures some classic images, such as Mick's truck coming over a dusk horizon, lights blazing against the ominous dark outline of hills behind it.

All the craft departments excel, and Johnny Klimek's score is true to genre yet sufficiently inventive not to be derivative.

If it weren't for some misjudged - and extended - sequences that simply don't work, Wolf Creek 2 would have been a stronger propellant for No 3.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

GREG McLEAN INTERVIEW

WOLF CREEK 2 (MA15+)
(Aust, 2013)

CAST: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn, Phillipe Klaus, Gerard Kennedy, Annie Byron, Shane Connor

PRODUCER: Helen Leake, Greg McLean, Steve Topic

DIRECTOR: Greg McLean

SCRIPT: Greg McLean, Aaron Sterns

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Toby Oliver

EDITOR: Sean Lahiff

MUSIC: Johnny Klimek

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert Webb

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 20, 2014







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