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"Wolf Creek"

Directed by Greg McLean.
Written by Greg McLean.
Starring John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  1/10/06


Hey, I love horror--especially when it's based on a true story and made in Australia!

"Wolf Creek" is decidedly less horror-like than many of its recent predecessors.  Three 20-somethings heading to a party somewhere across the Australian desert--Ben (Nathan Phillips), Liz (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy (Kestie Morassi)--buy a car and make a big road trip to their final destination, chillin' out along the way, swapping stories and staring out at the endless plains in front of them.  One of the stops on their journey is to check out this big ass crater at Wolf Creek Park, so after making a pit stop at a local gas station they make their way out to the crater...but when they come back to their car, their watches have stopped working and their car suddenly stops working, too.  Stranded, they wait out the night in the car, until luck brings the threesome a wayward mechanic (John Jarratt) that offers to tow their car back to his lot, where he can get their ride up and running.


With an ominous statistic to open the film that of the 30,000 Australians that go missing each year, only about 90% make it home alive within a month's time, you KNOW that this threesome is in trouble when they meet the mechanic.  Don't you know you don't talk to strangers, even if you are stranded in the Outback???  Director Greg McLean, working off what is apparently a real-life case, has to make up some of the details because some of what happens to the kids is obviously up for debate...but, given that, the work that he does is kinda freaky, even if it never truly freaked me out.  This is because our kidnapper is so folksy, so could-be-your-neighbor friendly, that he is frightening in his ability to make anyone feel at ease...and boy, when we REALLY get to meet this guy, he's got some issues but nothing that ventured far from the Psycho Hall of Fame.

Save for that, plus the fact that our main three characters just weren't very interesting, "Wolf Creek" otherwise works as a thriller since you ride along as if you really could imagine how scary it might be to have your car break down in the absolute middle of nowhere.  Once the kids get picked up by our man Mick the Mechanic, all I could focus on was how committed I am to never taking a road trip alone into the middle of nowhere (in this country, this is known as "Montana") because of the high probability of my never returning and no one ever knowing the grisly details.  McLean, working from his own script, does get in your head a bit in this way--what if you told everyone you know you're taking a road trip for the next month, and you get kidnapped four days into your trip?  Shit, nobody's even going to miss you, right???

"Wolf Creek" is short and sweet, with an ending--while not very satisfying--that helps wrap up somewhat the real life events of what happened to the people involved.  I loved that it didn't reach into cheap horror conventions (heightened music right before somebody is about to be harmed, or smart people investigating ridiculously dangerous situations for the sake of it, or faux scares thanks to cats crossing the screen), and I loved that the soundtrack is very sparse; it's much scarier watching the action while waiting to see where the killer is going to pop up next.

Not bad, especially for a cheapie during the day.  Now, I've got to go and see "Hostel"!! 

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09