With last week’s Australian streaming service Stan announcing a follow up to their “Wolf Creek” series, the television expansion to Greg McLean’s terrifying and terrific outback Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) horror anthology.
The series thus far has gone from strength to strength. The original and arguably the best movie “Wolf Creek” captured the zeitgeist (and probably altered central Australian tourist travel routes) by dramatising one of Australia’s most infamous serial killers, Ivan Milat. The second movie “Wolf Creek 2,” was Mick Taylor’s stage to perform the greatest and biting satirical horror of Tony Abbott lead Australian Politics that we could hope for.
The “Wolf Creek” series sees Mick make a misstep. American tourist Eve (Lucy Fry) is holidaying in the Australian outback with her family (father, mother and younger brother) when they encounter Mick and are, as you would expect at this point, horrendously and viciously murdered. Eve manages to escape the carnage, with a gunshot wound for her troubles and is left recounting the horrific experience to bewildered police hunting for evidence. That darn Mick has already butchered her family and removed their body parts from the scene. With nothing left to lose Eve makes it her mission to hunt down the man who slew her family and bring him to justice.
The Outback is Dark and Full of Terrors
Surprisingly lead character Eve’s sprawling pursuit through the vast and desolate middle of Australia isn’t merely haunted with the presence of Mick at every turn. From evading police to begin her investigation, run-ins with perverts, bikie gang members and the deeply weird fringe folk; Eve has to battle the wolfish nature of the male population.
The Northern Territory is presented as sparse frontier, a haven for lawlessness or those who intend to be off the grid. Fry’s slender athletic figure and ‘top model’ jawline and lips make her body the a focal point for the predatory gaze of degenerates at every turn. In every location, for every man (with the exception of Mick and Detective Sullivan Hill), she’s being eyed off like a fresh steak after famine. The Australian outback is populated with a variety of deadly ‘creepy-crawly’ creatures. Instead of species of snakes and spiders being the primary hazards for Eve to avoid, the degenerate men have become the predatory and poisonous wildlife. Mick is the apex predator, getting off on brutal violence and butchery; but when he encounters these other characters, there’s no mistaking who’s who in the food chain.
The directors of the series Tony Tilse & Greg McLean and the writers Peter Gawler, Felicity Packard (based on McLean’s original screenplays) have the restraint, to not objectify Fry while she’s being eyed off like dinner from the obstacle course of carnivores they’ve laid in front of her. Instead, those male figures that populate the outcroppings of life, or hiding in lairs are framed like rodents or scavengers in the largely deserted space.
You had my curiosity, now you have my attention.
Jarratt is tremendous once again as Mick, the icon that makes you scared to laugh at things that should evoke cultural cringe. He’s the same Mick that you remember in so many ways but what’s great is that you get to see his admiration for Eve. He knows that she’s evaded his knife once and she’s wily enough to have caught his scent to pursue vengeance. Mick is so confident that he’s keen to clear (read kill) the obstacles in her way.
Fry’s Eve gets better and better as the series progresses. At times the writing backs her character into some completely gnarly situations that step over the line of what’s believable for her to overcome. You are jarred out of your suspension of disbelief in those moments and it adversely affects the way that you approach her performance. Fry is a strong heroine for the series with an abandon that often makes you audibly root for her survival and success.
When you watch “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the opening credits talk about a world pushed to the brink by nuclear conflict and the eventual polluted survivors battling over the scarcity of the Earth’s remaining capacity to provide. “Wolf Creek” is fuelled by the same fear rippling from the wilds of the Australian outback. The heat, the oppressive, sterile wilderness hovering alongside flecks of civilisation has a believable maddening quality. It’s that desolate world that forges monsters like Mick Taylor.
Directors; Tony Tilse & Greg McLean
Writers; Peter Gawler, Greg McLean, Felicity Packard
Starring: Lucy Fry - Eve Thorogood; Johan Jarratt - Mick Taylor; Dustin Clare - Sullivan Hill; Jessica Tovey - Kirsty; Jake Ryan - Johnny; Deborah Mailman - Bernadette; Rachel House - Ruth;
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.