First of all: I’m not a huge fan of the “based on true events”-trend in horror movies. There are very few that really benefit from this label, and more often than not – like last years “The Conjuring” – things get so supernatural that I can’t take the “based on true events”-preface serious anyway. Given the fact that this is about a serial killer that lives in the outback of Australia and picks on tourists, this is admittedly not a problem here. Nevertheless, when in the end you notice that a) most of the stuff that happens in the 2nd half of the movie must be fictional by default, and b) there’s a possibility that there never was such a killer in reality, it brings me back to my main question with this label: What do filmmakers try to achieve? A bad movie won’t get any better because it’s “based on true events”, and a great movie won’t get any worse because it’s completely fictional. Thus, since I’m not a huge fan of such prefaces, “Wolf Creek” and I weren’t off to a good start.
The next half hour didn’t do a lot to conciliate me with the movie. It’s your typical slasher movie entrance where they introduce the protagonists, and while I definitely have seen a lot worse when it comes to characters in horror movies (meaning: at least I didn’t wish for them to die), it also did little to really make me sympathize/relate to them. They were… ok, but a little bland overall. The movie isn’t helped by clichés like the weird dudes in a pub that make fun of strangers, or the constantly shifting video/production quality. The static shots seemed to have been taken with a regular film camera, and looked great, but most of the movie seems to have been shot on a digital camcorder. Also, the (handheld) camera is shaking all the time, giving this movie an almost documentary/found footage-feel, something I’m not particularly fond of. And: Did they ever explain why the watches and the car broke down? Was it because of the crater?!
However, after a shaky start, the movie finally started to gain momentum at the half hour mark, when Mick Taylor offers to help them. The next 15 minutes do a good job conveying a sense of dread and danger; we just all know what’s going to happen. Then, roughly 45 minutes into the movie, it really kicked into high gear. The following 15-20 minutes are some of the finest that I’ve seen in a horror movie in a while. I love that we see everything that’s happening just from the perspective of one of the victims. “Wolf Creek” does a good job of putting us into her position, and asking us: “What would you do?” – which is one of my favorite things in horror movie. Would you run away, try to call for help, try to save your friends, go up against the killer…? I loved the shit out of that part. [SPOILERS] Granted, they lost some of my appreciation again when the gal first tried to “double dip” (to quote “Zombieland”) – which was great! – but then failed to just pick up the knife that Mick had in his hands just seconds earlier, and stab him to death with it [/SPOILERS], but since I knew that this had to happen and I actually finally had a good time with the movie, I could get over it. I also liked how the movie shifted the perspective again and again afterwards. I may be inclined to criticise some of the actions of the protagonists, but overall, they didn’t do too bad. At least there were no scenes that had me facepalm like it’s 2366.
So, to sum it up: Didn’t much care for the first half, loved the 3rd quarter, liked the 4th quarter.
PS: Thanks to Maynard for lending me his DVD!