So rarely has a merciless outback slaughter looked and sounded this good
The first Wolf Creek became something of an underground cult hit with its nasty central character, Mick Taylor. It’s been a few years for the franchise but director Greg McLean returns with a better and more vicious installment in Wolf Creek 2. Crossing the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a brilliant inversion of the popular Crocodile Dundee character, Mick Taylor is the most inspired new killer to hit horror in years. Wolf Creek 2 is a menacing thrill ride that grabs you from the beginning and never lets go.
What Wolf Creek 2 delivers without question is a pure, relentless slasher grounded in movie reality. Purportedly based on true events, it posits a serial-killing madman is picking off foreign tourists in Australia’s expansive wilderness. The concept sounds real enough, especially for anyone that might have gone backpacking across the world in remote regions. John Jarratt returns as the crazed Mick Taylor, a ruthless and psychotic version of Crocodile Dundee. Much like the first Wolf Creek, he’s absolutely perfect as the aging Australian serial killer. Mick is not a supernatural creature like Freddy or Jason; his human failings are all too apparent as he hunts down his victims.
The Australian Outback and the country’s national parks can be foreboding in their isolation from humanity and civilization. Wolf Creek 2 smartly explores that idea and includes a bit of Australian history along the way. Set in Wolf Creek Crater national park, this is Mick’s territory. He prowls the desert roads in his weathered truck looking for clueless tourists like a lion on the savannah. His first targets are a German couple camping in the wilderness at night. Relentlessly pursuing his intended prey, a poor British tourist by the name of Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr) interrupts Mick’s chase and becomes the focus of the madman’s ire.
Co-writer and director Greg McLean took everything that made the first Wolf Creek a cult hit and improves upon it for Wolf Creek 2. It has one of the most polished scripts seen in years for a horror film. Tautly paced with clever twists on the standard terror formula for a slasher, Wolf Creek 2 deftly explores more of Mick Taylor’s backstory. I can’t wait to see where the character is taken for a possible Wolf Creek 3. Wolf Creek 2 is not for the faint of heart, it is a bloody slasher with visceral gore and occasional torture. This is a perfect movie for genre fans and one that should become a hit as word spreads.
Is this a slasher or a travelogue for Australia’s wilderness? The Blu-ray by Image Entertainment has reference quality video near the pinnacle of the format. Cleanly presented in an immaculate transfer direct from the digital intermediate, the fun horror film can thank the Arri Alexa Plus 4:3 digital camera with a variety of Hawk lenses. Other films to use those lenses include top-shelf demo discs like The Wolf of Wall Street and Upside Down.
Using the camera’s full resolution of 2880×2160, every shot oozes incredible detail and razor-sharp depth, from close-ups to longer distances. Its unrelenting consistency and pure excellence makes it an easy choice for demanding videophiles.
The AVC video encode averages 24.99 Mbps for the main feature, handling 99.9% of the expertly-shot cinematography in crystal-clarity. There are a couple of seconds with minor banding in what is otherwise a perfect video encode. Absolutely smooth black levels render intricate shadow delineation. This is not a film where the action ends up being obscured in darkness. You won’t miss a single bloody moment. Getting completely unfiltered video like this in a vivid but balanced color palette is a rare thing these days.
Panoramic landscapes and sun-drenched vistas make for a large amount of scenic eye candy in the scope presentation. Cinematographer Toby Oliver really exploited the natural beauty of Australia’s landscape for maximum effect in Wolf Creek 2. It is practically a character unto itself in the film, as the camera sweeps over the untouched land.
Wolf Creek 2 comes with a dynamic 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that hangs with the latest big-budget action thrillers and summer blockbusters. The active sound design delivers a wide array of surround cues and intense bass, all in perfect fidelity. One of the nice touches in Wolf Creek 2 is the ironic usage of several songs, including Patsy Cline’s I Fall To Pieces and Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild. Everything sounds great, nicely situated in a balanced mix with pinpoint imaging. This is easily one of the best mixes I’ve heard this year.
The included English SDH subs appear in a white font, inside the 2.35:1 framing of the main feature. The German tourists speak in German and their dialogue is translated via burnt-in subtitles.
Image Entertainment includes a DVD of the movie in this combo pack. A slipcover replicating the cover art is available. The entire set is packaged in an eco-LITE Vortex case, meaning there are no holes in its Blu-ray case. The list of features might look a tad short but the documentary is exhaustive in covering practically everything behind Wolf Creek 2.
Butcher’s Cut: Deleted Scenes (23:56 in HD) – The scenes are neatly shown in chronological order from their sequence in the movie. The majority of them deal with excised material involving the German tourists. While nothing is wrong with these cut scenes, the taut pacing would have been knocked out by the added length to the movie.
Creating A Monster: The Making Of Wolf Creek 2 (52:07 in HD) – To give you an idea of this documentary’s structure, it is broken up into 21 separate chapters of varying length. Covering a multitude of behind-the-scenes topics, everyone from the director to John Jarratt sits down and gives fairly interesting answers. Leaving no stone unturned, it answers almost everything a person would want to know about the process behind Wolf Creek 2 and how it developed. There is also a good amount of on-set footage.
Trailers for All Cheerleaders Die (01:25 in HD) and Evidence (02:24 in HD) appear before the main menu.
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.