In between the release of Saw and Eli Roth’s Hostel, Oz-ploitation flick Wolf Creek put itself at the forefront of the Torture Porn cycle of the early 2000s. Writer and director Greg McLean (Rogue) shocked and divided critics with his brutal and loose take on Aussie backpack serial killer Ivan Milat. Though it was a relatively minor box office hit, there was enough word-of-mouth to warrant a sequel that followed several years later. As is often the case with sequels, Wolf Creek 2 fell just a little short of the original. But the psychopathic villain Mick Taylor was still scary enough to get a brief television series greenlit. Later this year, a Wolf Creek 3 will get a release.
In the Australian Outback, the ruthless serial killer Mick Taylor still stalks unwitting tourists visiting the Wolf Creek Crater. When a British tourist interrupts Taylor, he becomes the killer’s next target. What follows is a brutal cat-and-mouse chase across the Outback where the chances of survival grow increasingly slim.
Wolf Creek 2 Takes an Initially Different – and Fun – Approach To Its Material
For nearly half of its runtime, writer and director Greg McLean shakes up the formula and subverts expectations. While Wolf Creek was a slow burn that saved its villain and gut-wrenching violence for the back half, Wolf Creek 2 puts Mick Taylor front row and center. Straight from its opening scene, McLean discards the methodical approach. It’s an immediate serving of the psychopathic Mick Taylor and his brand of Outback carnage. In other words, McLean doesn’t bother with any pretenses. He knows why most people are turning out for the sequel. Like his first movie, McLean introduces us to another backpacking couple, allowing us to spend a little time with them.
Straight from its opening scene, McLean discards the methodical approach. It’s an immediate serving of the psychopathic Mick Taylor and his brand of Outback carnage.
As compared to the original, however, McLean pulls an abrupt bait-and-switch and we’re forced to say a quick goodbye to the German couple. Instead, Wolf Creek 2 very quickly introduces a wholly new British tourist to the mix. What follows is a tense cat-and-mouse chase across the outback that sets the sequel apart. McLean opens up the world of the sequel allowing the action to unfold across sundrenched scenes of the vast Australian outback. There’s even the occasional bit of humor to break up the suspense and ugly violence.
Wolf Creek 2 Eventually Settles Into Familiar Torture Porn Territory
Unfortunately, Wolf Creek 2 slides into familiar territory by its third act. Once again McLean drags audiences back into same darkly lit underground tunnels and focuses on extended and uncomfortable scenes of torture. That is, McLean replaces the suspense established earlier with the shocking and ugly Grindhouse violence that defined the first movie. Yes, Wolf Creek 2 is frequently punctuated with graphic violence, but the final act becomes relentlessly exploitative. It’s everything that defined Torture Porn movies done on the same level of grandeur as what Eli Roth accomplished with his Hostel movies. It’s less edge-of-your-seat and more of an endurance test watched from behind your fingers.
…McLean replaces the suspense established earlier with the shocking and ugly Grindhouse violence that defined the first movie.
Once again John Jarratt’s performance as Mick Taylor steals the sequel. To date, the Aussie serial killer remains one of the most terrifying horror movie villains put on the screen this century. Still Wolf Creek 2 lacks the emotional stakes McLean established with the slow burn approach of the original. We spent most of the first half of that movie getting to know the backpackers that we became invested in their fates. Yes, McLean defies expectations by unexpectedly killing characters early on. However, the result is we don’t really know or care much about Ryan Corr’s British tourist, Paul Hammersmith.
Wolf Creek 2 Offers More of the Same Gore With Less Emotional Payoff
How much one enjoys Wolf Creek 2 will depend on expectations. On one hand, McLean doubles down on John Jarratt’s terrifying Mick Taylor and the nasty torture and gore that shocked audiences several years earlier. More Jarratt ensures the repetitive violence doesn’t veer the sequel too far off course. Not surprisingly, Jarratt dominates every frame in which he appears, never losing the power of his despicable villain. And the violence remains shocks. Yet Wolf Creek 2 substitutes the slow-burn and character investment for more violence. As a result, we never really care for Ryan Corr’s Hammersmith or the disposable German tourists. It’s a better than expected follow-up, but an obvious step down from its predecessor.