Not since Passolini’s anti-fascist Salo have I seen so many people walk out of a movie theatre. My date began to squirm as the sick shit started and she left with a half an hour to go, claiming that Wolf Creek was, “too real for me.” This is absolute perversion, dreadful, mind-blowing horror at its most psychopathic. Wolf Creek is Saw on P. It is the new millennium’s answer to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The story, allegedly based on actual events, follows three road tripping tourists as they leave Australia’s West Coast and venture into the desert. The grainy early scenes tag this film as something a lot juicier than the blow-dried, tan-in-a-bottle Hollywood horror/thriller genre. From the dirty realist, reckless, pool-party the film opens with, we are expecting more than tomato sauce splatter and slight of scissors editing, and Wolf Creek delivers.
In the tradition of Deliverance the seriously freaky red-necks start to get the better of the naïve tourists and there is no letting up until the final credits. This is edge of your seat, adrenaline spurting horror at its worst. It is as mad as Max.
Amid the relentless torture the Aussie outback is a character in itself. Beautifully crafted cinematography brings the vastness of the desert to life without try-hard tumbleweed shots, and we realize the tourists’ position is hopeless against the backdrop of nature’s own brutality.
Wolf Creek is perverse in a way that Silence of the Lambs could only ever dream of. It is more visceral than Seven and left me wondering what is the point of such a film? There is no moral, no uplifting ending, no feel-good factor. This is trauma for the sake of fear. The filmmakers want us to puke our guts up, we want to be hammered into submission, and we are. Anyone who watches Wolf Creek without feeling victimized, who doesn’t sweat empathy for the tortured trio, is psychopathic themselves. If films are made to make us feel, then this is one of the greatest films of all time. It consumed me with unforgiving dread.
Wolf Creek will do the opposite for Australia’s tourist industry that Lord of the Rings has done here in New Zealand. It is a truly savage thriller that treads a fine line between sensation and censorship.
Directed by Greg McLean
Hoyts, Reading Cinema