At the conclusion of the first Wolf Creek, outback murder Mick Taylor literally walked into the sunset, gun in hand, after months spent terrorizing three backpackers. Nine years later, it seems he is still at it, just on a much larger scale. After proving the concept, the filmmakers return with added confidence and present a movie in many ways similar to the first but also rather different. But what fans want to know is, "is it as good as the first?"
Whilst backpacking through the outback en route to Wolf Creek, German tourists Rutger (Phillipe Klaus) and Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn) are set upon by Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) with some friendly advice. Quickly showing his true colors, the couple is attacked, and another intense and bloody outback battle is set in motion. But when resourceful British ex-pat Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr) becomes entangled in the bloodshed, both Hammersmith and Taylor quickly understand that it will test the survival skills of both the hunter and the hunted.
In what I thought was an impossibility, Wolf Creek 2 has the audacity to play with audiences' expectations by panting Taylor as the victim in the film's opening sequence before returning rather quickly to far more familiar ground quite rapidly; blood spills and the body count starts to rack up.
In the same manner that Writer/ Director Greg McLean attempted a bit of back-story and blossoming romance with the ill-fated outback tourists in the first movie, he's followed a similar route here. Of course, these soon to be ex-blood bags are entirely perfunctory and any exposition simply serves to delay the inevitable.
Ultimately, the audience doesn't care about these walking targets and whatever time we spend with the hapless couple just isn't enough to form a caring bond or care about their plight.
But once the film's main protagonist, the dashing British expat Paul Hammersmith, enters, it's a whole new ball game, and the film takes a surprising turn. A fourth quarter breather with Hammersmith and Taylor playing a game of Australian inspired trivia provides chills and even a few nervous laughs, whilst Taylor even reveals the reason for his murderous bent as some misplaced xenophobic patriotism.
Sadly, the well-crafted sequence leads up to a confusingly abrupt conclusion, which raises more questions than answers. In the end, I felt cheated by a film that revels in proudly displaying everything (and I think the OFLC were quite lenient with their MA15+ rating here) but didn't feel the need to offer a rational conclusion.
McLean handles Wolf Creek 2 with abundant and obvious talent, but sadly his script isn't as adept. John Jarratt is simply wonderful once more, and his performance stands out Wolf Creek from other bloodbaths such as Saw. The production values by way of the increased budget are there to be seen on screen, particularly in the thrilling Duel-inspired road battle. During that sequence, Hammersmith taunts Taylor with the line "is that the best you can do?", which, despite the best of intentions, is a line that the filmmakers themselves should have ruminated on.