Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wolf Creek

“30,000 people are reported missing in Australia every year. 90% are found within a month. Some are never found again.”

It's good to know that some things are universal, cutting across cultural lines to help bring us all together. If nothing else, Wolf Creek proves there IS Spring Break in Australia. Two British college girls Liz and Kristy, along with their Aussie friend Ben, have just finished up a glorious stay on the Australian coast. They've gotten a good price on a used car (yeah, foreshadow this!) and they're bound for Wolf Creek Crater, a real life meteor crater, 875 meters in diameter, believed to have been formed when one big-ass space rock touched down during the Pleistocene Era.

The vacation starts to go south when Ben's car refuses to start, leaving the trio stranded in the middle of a vast Australian nowhere. Just as they prepare to spend the night in the car, a seemingly friendly local named Mick Taylor arrives and offers to tow their car back to his camp for repair. There is some trepidation, but Mick seems like an amiable enough cuss. He sets to work fixing the car while the stranded young folk drink the fresh water Mick has offered.

Liz wakes up sometime later. She's alone, bound and gagged on the floor of a shack. The water, it seems, was drugged. Fighting off hysteria, Liz manages to free herself, and following the sounds of Kristy's screams, she finds her friend bound and bloody at the mercy of their host Mick, who is the antithesis of the good samaritan they originally believed him to be. Ben is nowhere to be seen, and Liz is forced to make some of the toughest decisions of her life.

Some might say it takes awhile for the action to kick in, but I say that is time well spent. These are not the cookie-cutter teens of so many other horror movies. The extended character development is essential, letting us know who these kids are and making what eventually happens to them all the more horrifying. And make no mistake, what happens IS horrifying.

What with the camping, the presence of a video camera, and the ever building tension, Wolf Creek at times feels like The Blair Witch Project with the gender ratio reversed. The similarity may not be a coincidence. The Blair Witch Project was a work of fiction disguised as a documentary. Wolf Creek is allegedly “inspired by true events,” so both films attempt to more closely engage the audience by implying that what we are seeing is real. Reinforcing this is the fact that the characters do not make a lot of the usual horror movie mistakes (“Let's split up and die!”). Also, as with Blair Witch, we are given a cast of unknowns, actors who come to us with absolutely no preconceived notions, adding immensely to the realism. The fact that much of Wolf Creek is obviously based on conjecture and not established facts is irrelevant, and does not diminish its impact.

It's interesting to note that slasher movies like the Friday the 13th and Halloween movies—as well as their countless imitators—attempted to up the horror by putting a mask on the killer. The faceless killer was meant to stimulate a fear of the unknown. Wolf Creek does a full turnaround, giving its killer a human countenance, showing us that an inhuman monster in a Halloween mask isn't nearly as frightening as a real person who just enjoys hurting people because he's wired that way.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

So. . . you liked it?

netflix, or no? :-)

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