Running Time: 99 mins.
Rated: Rated R.
A French wit at the Cannes Festival suggested that this should be the winner, not of the Camera D'Or for first-time director, but the Camera Gore. Funny but misleading, as were so many of the critical and puff pieces that linked it to splatter films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These films are genre pieces where the horror seems so impossible and excessive that one suspends disbelief and simply disbelieves.
Wolf Creek, however, gathers elements of real events in Australia: Ivan Millat's killing of hitch-hikers south of Sydney and the disappearance of British tourist, Peter Falconio, in northern Australia and the survival of his girlfriend (and media suspicion of her). There are certainly some moments of horror (very grimly so), but they are in a more "realistic context' that this could really happen.
It all starts off as a road movie, tourists on the beach at Broome and a whole lot of partying going on. Three of them (two British girls and a man from Sydney) decide to visit the meteorite crater at Wolf Creek. When they break down, a friendly truckie takes them to his home, and the terror begins.
Veteran John Jarrat plays the killer in a commonsense, Ocker, humorous and deadpan way, making his violence and cruelty all the more alarming. They joke about Crocodile Dundee (even to the reference to his knife) but this is the manic side of the lone hunter.
The three young people eventually have to be terrified and scream. Their fate is undeserved and that makes for pathos as well as horror in the suddenness of the deaths and their helplessness.
Greg Maclean has been an art director for Baz Luhrmann's operas and done short films and commercials. Wolf Creek was picked up quickly for US distribution and so Maclean would have enough money to make his next film at once.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.