24 Apr 2014

Review - 'Wolf Creek 2' is a Strong Follow-Up Regardless of its Drastic Tonal Shifts

The outback once more becomes a place of horror as another unwitting tourist becomes the prey for crazed, serial-killing pig-hunter Mick Taylor.

Director: Greg Mclean

Writer: Greg Mclean, Aaron Sterns

Stars: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr,
Shannon Ashlyn
Running Time: 106 mins
Sub-Genre: Slasher, Thriller
Release: 17th April 2014
Way back in 2005 Greg Mclean released an intense violent ride that was both a hit in Australia and across the globe, establishing Mclean and his talent, as well as an crazed ozzy who's name was engraved into the horror genre; that of Mick Taylor, so it was only a matter of time before the psychopath returned to screens to deliver even more gut-wrenching intensity. Lucky for us Mick Taylor is back, and whether or not he is better than ever is something that you would have to decide for yourself depending on how you like your killers. Now, I like mine sadistic, cold and blood-thirsty with a lack of remorse; others might like emotion behind them with charm and wit, but regardless of what your taste is, you will find it all crammed into a character who's screen presence you can't get enough of even within a 100 minute time-frame. All I can say is expect a lot of blood and a lot of gore.

The (short) franchise shows its age within the first half hour of the flick; possibly due to the growth of the director and of the franchises origins, but it becomes extremely evident pretty quickly that Wolf Creek and the character of Mick Taylor are more comfortable in their own skin, hence why Wolf Creek 2 is a more vibrant and lively type of slasher than the first ever was. Whether or not this is a good things is up to how you like your slashers, but when you reach a point where the character begin to have a song and dance of it all you realize that this just isn't the film it used to be; and far from it.

I largely admired the first back in 2005, and thought it was chilling horror at its finest, so delving into Wolf Creek 2 and finding a pantomime act with blood and guts isn't exactly what I and other fans of the first expect and want to see, but it was hugely fun and just as twisted as it has always been. Of course, this is all thanks to John Jarratt who is fantastic in Mick Taylor, presenting a thoroughly developed psychopath who we both enjoy and fear due to his seamless blend of psychotic and playful. His snappy one-liners and frequent gags keep things fresh regardless of how gimmicky is becomes every now and again; but it keeps the elongated car scenes watchable and the hugely silly final act bearable. Without Jarratt's presence, the film wouldn't have worked as well as it did, but therein lies the fault, as the first relayed on pulse-pounding intensity as opposed to blatant exposition and too strong of a focus on the menacing character. All you have to do is look at the posters from both films, and there you can see where the market is, and why this movie should be watched.

The acting is solid from Shannon Ashlyn who portrayed a meaningful character who's death I wasn't welcome to watching, and although the characters weren't as fleshed as they needed to be in order to add maximum effect to their demise, it's still shocking when it happens and in the fashion it's done in. As for Corr who takes over in the leading role towards the second half, his performance isn't strong enough to carry the most vital sections of the film, which becomes apparent when his performance falls flat as the action does in the cheesy final act; the gore is all there to make you squeamish  but ultimately the whole sing'song the characters make us endure leaves a stronger aftertaste than anything that came before it.

You have to admire Wolf Creek 2 for playing around with cliches and juggling our predictions, as what we expect is rarely the outcome, but the sequel is so hit-and-miss that it's hard to fully congratulate it on something it got right when the lingering taste was of that it got wrong. It doesn't take away from the vibrant approach however as there is a lot of fun to be had with this one despite the sadistic turn of events; but its the playful humor and stomach-churning gore that makes it all the worth-wile.

Wolf Creek 2 is pale in comparison to its proceeder as it replaces pulse-pounding intensity with vibrant humor and prolonged chase sequences; but ultimately it's a strong follow-up that re-introduces an iconic villain who provides a fun set-up accompanied by squeamish gore.

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