Tuesday, May 5, 2009

WOLF CREEK

by Tobias

> view trailer

It's a little sad to me that it took an Australian to perfect the slasher genre we Americans pioneered in our tumultuous 70's. Oddly enough, this film is atmospherically in as much debt to the young angry Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper, as much as it is to Peckinpah's STRAW DOGS or Nicolas Roeg's WALKABOUT. The existential dread that permeates from the screen during Greg McLean's disgusting and subversive WOLF CREEK is almost unbearable. The beautiful yet cruel ancient desert outback locale (shot majestically on HDV in anamorphic widescreen) seems strangely at ease with the primitive violence that transpires.

One of the more disturbing screen villains in recent memory is featured in this ungodly bleak film, and I'm worried he could sadly become a recycled stock character in more commercial rip-offs, remakes and sequels: see the fate of Rutger Hauer's character from the THE HITCHER (1986). I wouldn't be surprised if this film hasn't already seduced studio suits like Mike Fleiss and Michael Bay to pump it full of hollow spectacle and unnecessary showmanship.

I've read that Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have endorsed this Aussie shocker in the same way they heralded Eli Roth's HOSTEL films, and I must say that while that TV-baby gore fan appeal is certainly here to some degree, Greg McLean's uncompromisingly brooding film tends to polarize most horror buffs I know. Probably due to the nature of his atmospheric craft and smart character development. I actually care about these limey backpackers unlike the archetypes in most studio slasher horrors like I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER or the TV quality characters created for the mindless antics of the SAW franchise, concocted solely to be picked off one by one for pornographic amusement. I've never really understood why audiences find this torture to be thrilling, I feel like it is just too crappy a formula that any monkey with a camera could create. I grew to like the characters in WOLF CREEK too much, because what happens to them really traumatized me a bit. I stubbornly hadn't read much about the film before I first saw it, and the truly horrid impact of its events really made me feel uneasy. In that way, I won't claim that I think it's super fun escapism, because I actually find it to be a rather horrible experience to witness - as a great 'horror' film should be - that's kinda the brilliant nihilistic punch this film packs.

WOLF CREEK'S apocalyptically hopeless vision of true horror clearly stands apart from the other dull movies dished out by current splatter peddlers.

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