It’s been over a decade since the original Wolf Creek first dragged unwitting viewers into a horrible nightmare set in the desolate Australian Outback. The film and its memorable antagonist have since become a staple of the ozploitation genre, with the only real competition being George Miller’s Mad Max franchise. While we did eventually recieve a much-anticipated sequel in 2013, it felt like an over-the-top gore-fest, having more in common with your typical slasher flick than with the original’s horrifying yet believable setup. To most fans of the films, it seemed like this sequel would be the last we would ever see of Mick Taylor’s violent escapades. Luckily, Greg McLean proved us all wrong by bringing the next chapter of this brutal series to the small screen.
Wolf Creek stars Lucy Fry as Eve Thorogood, a young american tourist travelling through Outback with her family in an attempt to deal with her own personal demons. The Thorogood clan eventually stumbles upon a stranger in the wilderness, who initially appears to be a decent fellow. Unfortunately for them, the stranger is actually the sadistic serial killer Mick Taylor, played by the always-excellent John Jarratt. After Taylor reveals his true nature, Eve remains as the sole survivor of a horrific mass murder. However, with the reluctant help of Police Detective Sullivan Hill, played by Dustin Clare, Eve decides to remain in Australia and embarks on an ill-advised quest to avenge the death of her family.
On the surface, it may feel as if this isn’t enough plot to carry a 6-episode season of television, but Wolf Creek has several unexpected narrative tricks up its sleeve. From the complexity of character interaction and development to a grueling look at a young woman’s attempts to survive in an oppresive, male-dominated landscape, this series certainly takes the road less travelled where horror sequels are concerned. Thoughtful story and wonderfully developed characters aside, the cinematography here is also breathtaking, blurring the lines between Film and Television production value. Despite all odds, Wolf Creek feels like a genuine sequel and worthy successor of the films, with almost nothing lost in translation during the switch in medium.
Although the story does take some questionable detours near the end of the season, especially concerning Taylor’s backstory, the additional runtime allows for some incredible world-building as Eve travels Down Under in a seemingly hopeless game of cat and mouse. We end up seeing both perspectives, as Mick has a plan of his own once he realizes that someone is onto his murderous ways, leading to a genuinely thrilling conclusion as these two characters that we know and love (for vastly different reasons) finally face each other in one of the most cathartic showdowns in television history.
Even with the surprisingly cerebral story, it’s the details that make Wolf Creek stand apart from the competition. There’s an almost ethereal beauty to the way that the Outback is portrayed in this show, and it sometimes feels as though both protagonist and antagonist are dealing with forces far beyond their comprehension. Eve’s journey from victim to hardened survivor is also a joy to behold, and a far cry from the usual damsels in distress that populate horror media. There’s an almost mythical scope to the story as these two seemingly unstoppable forces of nature slowly approach one another, adapting to survive.
Much of what makes Wolf Creek so successful can be traced to Fry and Jarratt’s amazing performances. While they don’t necessarily share a lot of screentime together during the majority of the show, the actors have a compelling connection even when their characters are on opposite ends of the country. We’ve already seen John play Mick twice before, so I was already expecting his terrifying charms, but Lucy’s performance was a pleasant surprise, which helped to elevate an already great horror story. In fact, it was only after watching a few interviews that I realized that she’s not even really American, and was holding back her natural Aussie accent.
Ultimately, it’s hard to think of any horror-hound who wouldn’t enjoy the peculiar thrills of this unexpectedly great TV series. There may be a few flaws here and there, especially in trying to flesh out a character whose anonymity is precisely what makes him so terrifying in the first place, but the show almost immediately makes up for these blunders when they occur. From Lisa Salvo’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of Who Killed Cock Robin in the opening credits, to stunning shots of some of the most hostile environments known to man, there is certainly a lot to love about Wolf Creek!
The season finale of Wolf Creek premieres this Friday, November 18th, on Pop at 10:00PM, ET/PT!