Why Wolf Creek is a terrible, terrible film

This girl has just watched Wolf CreekSo bad it’s two lots of terrible.

I’d had this knocking around on Blu-ray for a while and wanted something quick to watch so decided to give it a go, thinking it would be a nice little horror film (oxymoron?) with a few scares, a bit of gore. Perfect, I thought. Wrong, I soon realised. There are spoilers ahead, by the way, in case anyone doesn’t want little there is to spoil spoiled.

The plot, or the closest to a plot as I could find in the film, is that three backpackers, Liz (Cassandra Magrath), Kristy (Kestie Morassi) and Ben (Nathan Phillips) go off to look at a meteor crater but when they come to leave their car won’t start. They are then rescued by Mick (John Jarrett), some guy who is seemingly just passing by. However, he isn’t just some guy but a psychopath who likes torturing tourists and backpackers. Sure the Aussie tourist board were well impressed with this.

First of all, can we please dispense with the whole ‘car won’t start’ thing? There are few horror film clichés done to death as much as this and in Wolf Creek it happens another couple of times on top of the initial instance. It’s boring, trite and completely unoriginal. Here it’s explained by some strange force that also stops everyone’s watches from working. This is likely something to do with the meteor crater but it’s suggested that there is some paranormal or extraterrestrial power at work. Just what type of horror is this exactly?

This is a good third into the film, at least. Up to this point, precisely nothing happens. I can’t recall anything that happens. There’s something with a swimming pool and a gas station with hostile locals (yawn), but that’s about it. We could have had some back story, some build up of tension, some foreshadowing, anything. Everything of use in that first half an hour could easily have been told in ten minutes or less, leaving much more time for some actually scares.

Actually, wait, there was something else that happened. There was some ridiculous romantic sub plot between two of the backpackers that has a whole scene dedicated to it but is literally forgotten without mention for the entire rest of the film.

Let’s get back to those scares, shall we? OK, there are none. The most intense part of the film lasts a mere matter of minutes and even then there’s nothing that will make you jump, reach for the nearest cushion or even do anything else other than wonder if this is the best it could come up with. A horror film should build tension and make the audience feel uneasy, but the only thing to feel uneasy about is the realisation that you’ve paid to watch it. And even if you haven’t, well there’s still nothing to get your heart rate going.

This is a bad manApparently, additional footage was left out where one of the girls finds a load of decomposing bodies but it was cut after test screenings for being, according to director Greg McLean, “simply too much”. TOO MUCH?! I seriously can’t imagine that any audience, after seeing the film, would ever say “you know what, that Wolf Creek was scary as hell, I was on the edge of my seat. And that bit with the decomposing bodies, well that was simply too much.” There are no scares or any kind of tension in the film; taking one of the few scenes out that could have added to it seems an odd choice.

One of my biggest wrangles with the film (and as you can see, there are many) is how it ends. Rewind back to the start and we have three backpackers, but we only really see what happens to the two girls; the guy is absent for a massive chunk of the film and he’s barely even referred to. It is literally as if he’s been completely forgotten about. But once the girls have been dealt with (the fact that they didn’t survive was probably the most interesting thing about the film), we suddenly go back to our friend who manages to escape and find help. My problem with this is that we have invested absolutely no time whatsoever with this character’s struggle or torment. At least with the girls, we saw what they went through and their fight for survival, helping us to identify with them a little more. Yet, with this guy I completely forgot he existed for a good portion of the film, so by the time he did crop back up, I really didn’t care whether he escaped or was hacked into a million little pieces. In fact, the character comes across as such an idiot that the latter would probably have been preferable.

Wolf Creek is apparently ‘based on a true story’. Except it’s not really. The Peter Falconio murder case and the Ivan Milat backpacker murders are cited as influences, but the film is most definitely not based on a true story. Every single one of the characters is completely made up. Just because some backpackers were once killed in Australia does not make this based on a true story. It’s like saying that Home Alone is based on a true story because a parent once left their child in the house by themselves, or that The Shawshank Redemption is based on a true story because someone once escaped from prison. The film may well be inspired by a true story, but it’s certainly not based on one. I know it’s only a case of semantics and I’m being picky here, but it annoyed me.

Who knows, maybe it’s just me. It was nominated for quite a lot of awards and actually managed to win a few. Obviously some people out there like it. Am I completely missing the point of the whole thing? If you’ve seen Wolf Creek, I’d love to hear your thoughts, good or bad. Am I being too harsh or am I justified in my criticisms?

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19 thoughts on “Why Wolf Creek is a terrible, terrible film

  1. vinnieh says:

    I’ve only seen bits of it, but will try and watch it and share my opinion.

  2. kloipy says:

    I thought John Jarrett did a good job as the villain, played well into the whole ‘i’m a stranger who has much more behind this smile’ but I just found the film to be really ugly and cruel. I didn’t think it was horrible as I feel like it accomplished what it set out to do. It isn’t scary, just as I said, an ugly portrait. Not a movie I would recommend to anyone. As much as I love horror, it seems the older I get, the less and less I find myself watching horror films that choose to be as dark or mean as something like this. I’ll stick to the 70’s and 80’s horror or stuff that has a side of fun to it like an Evil Dead or Cabin in the Woods.
    Great review Terry

    • Thanks Kloipy! I’ll agree that Jarrett did all that was expected of him really, he was a pretty nasty bastard who just wanted to punish others for whatever reason. I see very little purpose for this film, it just seems like an excuse to show some young people being tortured. I thought it was unimaginative and I found myself pretty bored.

  3. Alex Withrow says:

    This is the one where he snipes one of the girls out from afar, and the bottle on top of the car breaks before he actually shoots her…right?

    Either way, yeah, nothing special about this one. I did enjoy your complete thrashing of it though.

    • Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop says:

      That’s the one! Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it and I’ve been a little harsh but it just didn’t do anything for me whatsoever.

  4. Haha, loving this review! So mean 🙂

    “It’s like saying that Home Alone is based on a true story because a parent once left their child in the house by themselves, or that The Shawshank Redemption is based on a true story because someone once escaped from prison.” LOL

  5. mistylayne says:

    Completely justified. I think you said everything I was thinking when I watched it. SOOOO not impressed and frankly pretty bored.

    • Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop says:

      I’m so glad I’m not alone on this one! I was incredibly bored, especially for the first half of the film. I just thought it did so many things wrong.

  6. Tyson Carter says:

    As a huge fan of this film I feel I should at least try and defend it a little 🙂

    Mick tampered with their car, hence why it broke down. His truck can be seen at the restaurant/fuel stop place early on, (and in the video camera at the end) so he just followed them and broke their car. (He does this again in the sequel, the plot info gives this away as another car ‘breaks down’.)

    The magnetic effect from the crater actually happens, but it affects watches etc not the car, thats just what the 3 friends think it must be, as they dont know about the psycho hunting them.

    The head on a stick scene alone makes this a great film! Sure, its not perfect (as I mentioned in my review, how did he guess the car to hide in) but I feel your being way too harsh on it! But then again your entitled to be, and you did ask for opinions so this is just my humble one! Im just sorry it didnt work for you as it did for me. I cant wait for the sequel, and felt the tension was sky high throughout. I felt like we are led to believe the guy is dead, so when it shows him its an little twist in the tale.

    As for the sniper part, the fist shot at the bottle was to scare her, he didnt miss or nothing broke early Im pretty sure.

    Finally, if Misty Layne doesn’t like it then it means its a GREAT movie, as she hates DRIVE for gods sake so you do the math 😉

    • Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop says:

      Haha, we’ll I can’t defend Misty’s dislike of Drive, I love that movie!

      I’m always happy to hear others’ opinions whether they agree with mine or not, so I’m glad you commented 🙂

      I accept the whole it was him who messed with the car, I must have missed all that, but I was already pretty bored by that point, it took so long to actually go anywhere. I had real issues with the guy surviving, too. When he was still alive, fairly easily escaped and got rescued, I think I actually laughed. It felt to me as if the film makers had gone ‘shit, forgot about him. Erm, yeah, he just escapes and is fine’.

      Maybe I need to come back to this again in the future and give it another shot. Just so many things jump out at me as being wrong with the film (in my opinion) and after a while it had pretty much lost me. I would still give the sequel a go and who knows, it may help me see this in a better light!

      Thanks again for commenting Tyson.

      • Tyson Carter says:

        Anytime buddy!

        Im pretty sure the guy was arrested at the end (Im struggling to remember, or he was charged or interrogated over the missing girls (sorry, spoiling it, but you did already!)

        I hated The Innkeepers but some people (someone on here just commented above I think?) love it. All good fun sharing views though 🙂

    • mistylayne says:

      *virtually kicking Tyty* I’m not the only one who hates DRIVE! ;-p

  7. Jaymi says:

    I agree with you completely! I watched this in the theater and did find it to be interesting when I thought it was “based on a true story”. When the part came at the end of the movie to pretty much advise it was… I was let down hugely. I felt like I had been lied to. haha. I have no idea why… but it’s just how I felt! haha

  8. Seth McCubbin says:

    It’s not exactly meant to be a horror movie, it’s based on events that actually happened, it’s kind of hard to change true events that much.

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