‘Wolf Creek’ – Brutal Aussie Horror Explores Depravity Based on Chilling True Events
If you were to ask a random group of 10 people what type of horror films they consider to be the scariest, chances are at 6 out of those 10 will tell you that the horror films that are based on real-life events are the most frightening of all. After all, no werewolf is going to attack you by the light of a full moon and no vampire is going to seduce you and take your blood for nourishment. Zombies don’t exist. Nor werewolves. Nor vampires. Murderers and kidnappers, unfortunately, do exist.
Wolf Creek is based loosely on the abduction and likely murder of Peter Falconio (likely because his body has never been recovered) and his girlfriend, Joanne Lees. Lees managed to escape and has since written a book about the ordeal. She was the chief crown witness at the murder trial of Bradley John Murdoch, the man convicted of Falconios’ murder and who is now serving a life sentence for the 2001 murder. In addition, actor John Jarratt also based the character of Mick Taylor on real-life serial killer Ivan Milat.
In the grim, unflinching horror film ‘Wolf Creek’, three backpackers fall prey to a sadistic serial killer in the remote Australian outback, their idyllic road trip becoming a harrowing fight for survival. Loosely inspired by real-life Australian murders, this nerve-shredding ordeal depicts human evil at its most primal and random.
Three friends; Liz, Christy and Ben, are traveing across Australia when their car breaks down at Wolf Creek, a crater formed by a 50,000 ton meteorite. They can’t figure out why the car will not start and prepare themselves to wait out the evening. Later that night they are approached by Mick Taylor, who can be best described as a larger than life ‘Crocodile Dundee’-like character. They agree to go with Taylor back to his camp after he tells them he can fix their car. Taylor drugs them and then binds them in separate areas of the camp. He tortures Kristy by shooting at her and sexually abusing her. I don’t want to give away the rest of the film. All I will say is that the three of them, especially Kristy and Liz, are put through more torture in one night than they could ever imagine.
John Jarratt has shaped Mick Taylor into one of the most horrifying villains that I have seen in a horror film in a long time. According to trivia Jarratt stayed in character the entire time they were shooting the film. It is an absolute shame that the snobs who pull the strings at the Acadamy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are too damn afaraid to watch a horror film every now and then. Jarratt deserves the Oscar for his portrayal of Mick Taylor as much as Heath Ledger and Charlize Theron deserve theirs for playing the Joker and Aileen Wuornos.
Equally impressive is the performance of Cassandra Magrath as Liz Hunter. What makes it even more impressive is that she isn’t really given all that much dialogue. Her encounter with Jarratt is one of the cruelest incidents I have ever witnessed in a horror film, or any other film for that matter.
Wolf Creek eschews supernatural frights in favor of stark realism. There are no theatrical kills or convoluted backstories – only the banality of evil stalking defenseless youth in a remote place. Writer/director Greg McLean crafts set pieces of agonizing intensity, made more harrowing by their plausibility.
Inspired by the unsolved backpacker murders by Ivan Milat, ‘Wolf Creek’ strips horror down to blunt, shocking essentials – no fantasy, just unbridled human cruelty. McLean thrusts us into the randomness of evil, proving real-world darkness more terrifying than any mythical monster. Like Inside ( a film I am sure most people would agree that I refer to way too often ), Wolf Creek takes what could happen in real life and makes it far more frightening than anything that Freddy or Jason could ever dream of. Just remember, no one has ever been bitten by a vampire or attacked by a werewolf; but Ted Bundy was responsible for the murders of at least 30 women and Andrei Chikatilo murdered over 52 women and children before they were finally executed. Sleep on that.