On Second Thought: “Wolf Creek”

IMG_0332.JPGSome modern horror films stand out more than others. The things that scared you or unnerved you the first time around were so effective that you had to share with others.

The Dimension Films and Roadshow Entertainment film “Wolf Creek”, sadly does not appear to be one of those films that retains all that made it brilliant and effective the first time around.

This horror film stars John Jarratt (“Jack Irish: Dead Point”, “Wolf Creek 2”), Cassandra Magrath (“Utopia”, “Wentworth”), Kestie Morassi (“The Doctor Blake Mysteries”, “Offspring”), and Nathan Phillips (“The Bridge”, “These Final Hours”).

The film was written and directed by Greg Mclean (“Wolf Creek 2”, “Rogue”).

The Australian import debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2005, followed by a screening at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, and finally opened in US theaters on Dec. 25.

So, while I liked this film the first time around, it seemed to lose the overall effectiveness that it had when I initially saw it. I remember being sucked in and actually scared by what happened. I didn’t find any of that this time. I liked the chemistry between the main characters as the film introduced them prior to the torture they’d endure, but that only carried me so far.

The cringeworthy scenes were still effective with that in mind, but on an overall successful film level, not so much. In a way I somehow managed to get the feeling that this film was a kind of precursor to the later titled “Torture Porn” films. One may still include this film in the list, but I feel it falls short of all the other types of films, that polluted theaters for years.

I could still like how creepy and disturbing Jarratt was, but there seemed to be something missing. He hit some good levels of being a deranged killer, but somehow fell short of reaching the ultimate prize. He should’ve been a lot more fun to watch, as he’s really the main draw, but only was for so long, until I seemed bored.

The main problem I have with this film, isn’t the graphic nature of the violence, but the screen time that the three other leads had was really off. I get the point was, and anyone would’ve, that people were going to die, but why did we spend so much time with just Magrath and Morassi? Magrath showed a lot of promise with her clever sneaking, but later ended up falling prey to some pretty ridiculous cliches. Apparently, as I learned, watching old camcorder footage is more important than escaping.

Then, after the well constructed beginning, and all the time with Magrath and Morassi, you realize there’s been no mention whatsoever of Phillips. For some reason, after the rest of the story has played out, he’s left alone, with enough time for escaping, and that’s it. He’s just a survivor somehow and then the film ends. I’m pretty sure he could’ve still come out okay, but not just randomly and at the end.

Some horror films of recent years, it appears can’t be all that fun when you watch them again. It’s sad, as with this case, the recollection of what made me like it can’t hold true any longer, and could possibly be the reason why. By remembering everything so well, I’ve kept myself in the know and nothing can surprise me then. Sadly, I’m now concerned about the state of my other favorite, “The Descent”. I hope it’s still gruesome and fun as I recall.

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