“As grotesque and as violent as it can be, the film remains extremely realistic as well as legitimately terrifying.”

The three horror franchises I would not mind seeing continue and further developing their sagas and their characters are probably the Final Destination, Jeepers Creepers, and Wolf Creek franchises, as each entry in their respective series managed to impress me in some way and push the boundaries as to what horror films could do in terms of story and impact. Wolf Creek 2, the sequel to the nasty little horror flick that hit the scene on Christmas Day 2005, is nastier and more grotesque than the original. A haunting but often poetic horror film with some seriously commendable diversity, director Greg McLean gives us more of a look at the ruthless character of Mick Taylor but also gives us plenty of unpredictable horror and suspense, all encapsulated in a film of superb visual quality.

The film returns to the Australian Outback, where the sadistic sharpshooter Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) still lurks and prowls the lonely streets and vacuous desert wastelands looking for unsuspecting tourists to torture and murder. Mick winds up discovering a young German couple, who we see have been wandering waywardly in the emptiness of the desert valleys in Australia, hitchhiking and trying to get into town. Immediately, Mick playfully tries to coerce them into hitching a ride with him into town, but upon their refusal, winds up violently beating and stabbing the man and taking the woman captive after assaulting her.

Wolf Creek 2
Directed by
Greg Mclean
John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn
Release Date
17 April 2014
Steve’s Grade: A

When we return to Mick’s grungy lair, the woman finds a way to escape and is rescued by a British surfer named Paul (Ryan Corr), who engages in a hot pursuit chase through the Outback with Mick. It’s Paul and his Jeep versus Mick and his eighteen-wheeler as they plow through the streets, with Mick doing all he can to take one (but preferably both) into his mercilessly uncompromising custody.

The first Wolf Creek was a grimy little horror film that possessed great locations of the Australian Outback as well as being a strong showcase for showing the effect locational/cultural ignorance can have on helpless tourists in a different country. The film’s main drawback, despite its impressive nature overall, was that it had difficultly in perfecting its lighting scheme to a degree that made everything in the film easy to see and clear to the audience. Right off the bat, McLean fixes that problem with this sequel, making every scene colorful and visually sharp to the degree where everything can be seen, as well as the minute details on the golden sand or the blood-red sky of the Outback.

Huge credit goes to cinematographer Toby Oliver and the film’s editor, Sean Lahiff, who give Wolf Creek 2 the jolting and aesthetically-potent impact it needs to succeed. Oliver makes the Outback into its own discernible character, emphasizing the radiant sun, the beautiful blue sky, the swaying grass and trees, as well as a visual assortment of landscape shots that mesmerize and add to an already intriguing tale of survival horror and unjustifiable brutality.

Oliver finds himself assisted by editor Lahiff, who gives the film a more identifiable cohesion than its predecessor. In addition, because Wolf Creek 2 has several chase sequences, Lahiff is tasked with the ability to make these scenes connect in a way that shows what’s going on but also gives us a clear sense of placement (as in “where are we and what are we looking at”) in the shot. Action and horror films can easily be destroyed if the editing is off-balance, a shot doesn’t seem to be pointing in the right direction, and lack of clarity in what is being seen. There is none of that to be found in Wolf Creek 2; this is an aesthetically sublime film with some of the smoothest camerawork, photography, and editing I’ve seen in years out of the horror genre.

And yet, everything to praise about this film finds ways to come back to Jarrat, who is just hypnotizing as the role of the ruthless, fiercely unlikable, but oh-so interesting Mick Taylor. Mick’s main motivations behind his brutality and violence is his extreme hatred for ignorant tourists who think the Outback is their playground and they’re just lucky enough to be there. There’s no denying that Jarratt plays a contemptible, loathsome human character here, but his effect is nonetheless polarizing. Given his incredible ability to go from jolly and seemingly playful to angry and wickedly hostile, his presence on the set of the film must’ve been a jarring and often disturbingly effective one. His unpredictable nature and style of acting in the third act is something to behold, not to explain. If the Oscars paid attention to horror films like they do the year’s strongest dramas, Jarratt would no doubt get a nomination – he’s that strong and effective in his role.

As with Wolf Creek, there’s an unshakeable ugliness to the content, the subject matter, and the gory visuals in Wolf Creek 2, but functioning in the horror genre, the film has that standard of quality to live up to. As grotesque and as violent as it can be, the film remains extremely realistic as well as legitimately terrifying. In that respect, Wolf Creek 2 achieves its primary goal. As a film of visual excellence, masterful editing, among an inimitable central performance, the film achieves indecipherable heights.

Review by Lead Film Critic, Steve Pulaski