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After a couple of hedonistic weeks of partying and surfing, British backpackers Lizzie (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy (Kestie Morassi) along with their Aussie Friend Ben (Nathan Phillips), decide to head off in Ben’s old car to a mysterious meteor crater at Wolf Creek.
Here Ben is happy to discover that his feelings for Liz are reciprocated and they share a few tender moments while Kristy takes a nap. When they return to their car, their watches have stopped and the car is dead. The first half of the movie shows their journey and is filmed at a very slow and mundane pace, many have criticised this, but for me, it only makes the radical shift in pace more powerful than ever. When Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), a likeable and friendly ‘Crocodile Dundee’ type, turns up and offers to fix their car free of charge, the backpackers are happy to accept a lift to his place, which happens to be an abandoned mine site. They fall asleep around the camp fire and this is when that extreme shift in pace takes place. Lizzie awakes bound, gagged, and separated from her friends and here the nightmare begins.
I shared in the torment as the girls in particular were tortured in some of the most horrific scenes imaginable, I was spared nothing and had a real sense of foreboding, a feeling that no-one was getting out of this alive.
The direction/writing by Greg McLean is genius, the slow, almost documentary-like pace during the first half of the film made me feel like the ground had been ripped from beneath my feet when the terror began. I felt like I had been taking the ride along with the three friends and enjoying the beautiful location with them. Then, just as I was almost becoming bored, along comes Mick, perfectly portrayed by John Jarratt, to stir up all of my emotions as he toys with my new found friends. The musical score is impressive and adds to the tension and mood of the film. Wolf Creek is superbly acted and, although slow to start, I was still thinking about this movie the next day. There is no doubt about it, it makes an impact. The ‘head on a stick’ scene will remain with me for a long time.
Wolf Creek claims to be ’based on actual events’, but as the film is actually based on speculation surrounding the many disappearances of backpackers in Australia there is no way of ever knowing what really happened.
One thing is for sure, I won’t be putting on my rucksack any time soon!
WOLF CREEK (2005). Written and Directed by: Greg McLean. Cast: Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, John Jarratt.
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