Review: 'Wolf Creek 2'

By: Heather Seebach

It's hard to believe it has been nine years since Wolf Creek came out. Upon its release, it was beloved by genre fans and director Greg McLean was credited with revitalizing Aussie horror. Confession time: I am not a fan of that film. The original is plagued by boring plot tangents and silly horror tropes, failing to do anything that comparable films like Hostel and High Tension didn't already do better. The film's saving grace was John Jarratt whose scenery-chewing was a treat.

In McLean's follow-up, Jarratt's outback psychopath Mick Taylor is back and even campier than before. His reign of torturing tourists continues, most notably with a young British man (Ryan Corr) caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. While the original played like a gritty backwoods slasher, this sequel clearly aims to be funnier. Generally, I like my horror with a sense of humor but it gets a bit too goofy here. The song choices in particular could use a lesson in subtly - the film's music officially jumps the kangaroo during a road sequence set to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Wolf Creek 2 has the luxury of leaping head-first into the good stuff, now that our villain is established, so that already gives it a leg up on the first film. During the very first scene, we are actually meant to sympathize with Mick, which is interesting. It's hardly killer perspective but the film does feel less victim-focused, at least in the first half. Jarratt is given the freedom to be a total nut and, over-the-top though it may be, he is damn good at it.

 The set pieces are also a little less stagnant this time thanks to Mick getting a variety of rides and victims who are not 100% idiotic. The gore is not particularly abundant but when it comes, it does so with a vengeance - exploding faces, decapitation, and naturally, a severed penis. 

Around the third act, just when I expected the film to enter cliche territory, there is an extended dialogue-heavy sequence that is perhaps the strongest section of the entire movie. Horror films are not exactly known for their conversation scenes so it's an intriguing choice (even if it is a tad silly). There is also a lot of subtext about xenophobia but the social commentary is never quite nailed down. Still, it's a praiseworthy attempt to make this more than just another torture porn. 

The movie has sections that drag, and it is not without predictable horror tropes, but ultimately I enjoyed it more than its predecessor. Jarratt is as funny as he was before, only there is more of him now. Add to that better victims and better pacing for an improved sequel. I will say, however, that I absolutely loath the ending - it's cheap and infuriating. For all the film's attempts to side-step cliche pitfalls, it face-plants right into one by the time the credits roll. Nevertheless, fans of the original ought to love the return of Mick Taylor, especially if they have a twisted sense of humor.

Wolf Creek 2 is now available On Demand and will arrive in select U.S. theaters on May 16th. 

Also, click here to check out our recent interview with John Jarratt wherein he discusses his role as Mick Taylor, Quentin Tarantino, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and more!

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