Departing from the dark and somewhat realistic tone of its predecessor, Wolf Creek 2 revels in the absurd. Humour proves to be the driving force of the film, belying its vicious content, all the while giving viewers that guilty pleasure tingle we’re all familiar with.
Wolf Creek 2 features the return of our favourite nationalistic pig-shooter, Mick Taylor, back once again to terrorise unsuspecting backpackers in our great Aussie outback. John Jarratt’s second turn as the psychotic, yet affable, serial killer is as grotesque as the first. Switching effortlessly back and forth between lovable rogue and churlish xenophobe, Jarratt’s performance is sparsely used at the start of the film, never slipping into caricature and leaving the viewer wanting more. He is the kind of character that horror movie franchises are built on, so it is no surprise that Mick Taylor is granted some level of anti-hero status; you only need ask the two impossibly crooked coppers from the opening credits. At some level we want him to catch his prey, and the film is far more interesting when he does.
Enter German backpackers Rutger (Phillipe Klaus) and Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn), a couple so hopelessly in love you knew it couldn’t end well. The purposely off-putting love affair provides the audience with not only one of the more humorous scenes of dismemberment and evisceration put to screen, but also a gateway to the true protagonist, Paul (Ryan Corr). A British history major, presumably on a gap year, intervenes at the most unfortunate of times, and hence becomes the new object of Mick’s obsession. Corr’s disarming performance allows for a chase with more reason to root for mouse than cat, and admirably stands toe-to-toe with Jarratt’s powerful performance when Paul is inevitably captured.
Director Greg Mclean ventures into the surreal second time around. While not without its moments of gore, Wolf Creek 2 is arguably more action orientated and with a budget seven times that of the first, Mclean has the freedom to embrace the bizarre. This is never more evident than in some of the truly outrageous chase scenes including a semi-trailer pursuit through the hills (look out for those pesky kangaroos) and Mick Taylor on horseback. However, as previously mentioned, the film is far more interesting when Taylor’s victims are captured. This culminates in a truly terrifying, and humorous, game of Q and A where Mick and Paul become better acquainted with sing-song revelry. It is here that Mclean finds the thrills perfectly pitched.
Considering the content, it is a tribute to cinematographer Toby Oliver’s skill that he could make the setting so appealing. Beautifully shot landscapes, featuring South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, provide an inviting look into our own backyard, despite the resulting element of fear. It is in the isolation that we find ourselves most concerned for Paul’s life; there is nowhere for him to run. Johnny Klimek’s score is stark and unintrusive, never relied upon to scare, but rather used as a creator of suspense. Additional soundtrack choices lurch us back into the bizarre, especially the musical accompaniment of the demise of Paul’s potential saviours.
When compared to the original, Wolf Creek 2 is a very different beast. With enough gore to appease horror fans and a newly found sense of humour, Mclean has blazed a new trail for the franchise, adding Mick Taylor to the great history of invincible antagonists. Perhaps after a few more sequels we can finally get that Mick Taylor/Razorback crossover we are all hoping for.