When it comes to horror movie villains, none are bigger, badder or more disturbing than Australia’s very own, Mick Taylor. So colour a nation surprised when we learned that, following the box office success of Wolf Creek 2, the land down under’s most infamous cinematic villain would be moved to live streaming service, Stan, in a six part miniseries.
Once again director Greg McLean returns along with Australian actor John Jarratt to bring this terrifying outback killer back in a truly disturbing form.
A lot of people I know criticized the sequel, deeming it to be too far of a stretch from the original film as well as stating that Mick leaving Paul alive was completely absurd. They felt that they were watching two different characters. With this review of the Stan series, Wolf Creek, I will attempt to prove them wrong and show that everything Mick Taylor does, he does for a reason.
Let’s begin with the story that drives this miniseries forward. And with that in mind, here comes the obligatory spoiler alert.
The story begins with a typical American family that are on vacation and travelling through the vast countryside of Australia. They find a billabong and settle down for the night. The young son takes his inflatable raft and jumps into the water while the father and mother hang up some washing and begin preparing dinner. Their daughter Eve, played by Australian Lucy Fry (Mako Mermaids) is an athlete who has a serious prescription pill popping habit. She is withdrawn, not really interacting with her family. As it turns out this vacation is actually a rehab treatment for the disturbed Eve.
Like a scene from Jaws (or from Greg McLean’s other Australian horror, Rogue), a crocodile attacks the raft with the young son. Before it has a chance to take a bite, a gun sounds and a bullet pierces the head of the beast. Enter the familiar silhouette that Australians have come to love and fear, Mick Taylor.
The family, relived that their young boy is alive and well, invite Mick to have dinner with them as they discuss themselves. Mick reveals that he shoots pests; roos, pigs, tourists… The family laugh, but Eve seems to be uneasy around the gruff bloke. She leaves the campfire, returning to the trailer, while her father divulges to Mick that he and his wife are in fact both police officers. Mick starts laughing and finds it ironic that he’s a pig shooter while police in America are often referred to as pigs. This gets an uneasy chuckle from the family.
Before too long Mick is slicing his way through the father before tossing his trusty bowie knife at the mother. (This moment got an elated scream, and tweet, of “Right in the eye!” from me) He shoots the young boy in the back before making his way into the trailer to grab Eve, who hadn’t heard a single thing because of her headphones.
After she takes in the shock of her slain family, she attempts to flee but Mick puts a bullet into her too, causing her to fall face first into the river.
Mick grabs himself a couple of souvenirs from the trailer before moving the bodies closer to the campfire. As he goes to retrieve Eve, he notices that she’s gone. Presuming she’s croc bait, he walks off. He burns the bodies of her family as well as the camping trailer and disappears into the night.
And so it begins.
Eve is alive, discovered by fisherman. She is taken to the hospital where the bullet is removed. She is caught trying to steal prescription pills from an unmanned medicine cabinet and eventually is chatting with Detective Sullivan Hill (played by Dustin Clare).
Detective Hill doesn’t quite believe Eve at first. He leans more towards it being a murder/suicide pact than an attack of a lone gunman. Especially as Eve’s father had to get a special permit to bring his own gun into Australia.
Eve disagrees and after seeing a photo of two missing tourists, is now convinces that every person who has disappeared has done so at the hands of this crazed killer. What makes her think that? Mick’s distinctive truck can be seen in the background of the photo. Sullivan tries to get Eve to see things his way; dozens of people go missing in the Australian outback every year. The chances of all this disappearances being linked to the same psycho is farfetched. Plus the likelihood of finding a lone outback killer is slim to none considering the size of the country.
This doesn’t deter Eve from finding the man that killed her family and she sets out to track down the man in the blue truck.
She steals Detective Hill’s files on missing people and throughout the course of six episodes tries to find out what’s happened to them, all the while keeping an eye out for Mick.
Of course by the final episode we’re ready for a showdown between our favourite outback fiend and our new ‘survivor’ girl. And it doesn’t disappoint. It is everything we’ve come to love and expect out of the Wolf Creek franchise; hilarious quips from Mick, a ‘survivor’ finding their inner strength and fighting back as well as a great game of possum.
I’m not going to go into too much detail regarding the show, as I don’t wish to spoil it for those who haven’t watched it yet, but I am going to point out some key elements that you need to watch out for. Firstly, legendary Australian actor Gary Sweet makes an appearance. You have no idea how happy I was to see his name in the credits of the trailer for the show. He’s been a favourite of mine for many years. He plays a grieving father, whose young daughter had disappeared and has been missing for a number of years.
Eve stumbles upon him in her journey thanks to the file Detective Hill had on the missing girl. What happens after that should leave everyone who resides outside of Australia trembling in fear for there is someone scarier than Mick Taylor lurking in our outback.
Secondly, there is a secondary storyline with a group of tough bikers. The storyline interlocks with Eve’s story but it does have some merit on its own. Watch closely otherwise you may miss a vital piece of information.
Third, the Madonna. No, not the entertainer. I’m talking about the pub. The pub in the middle of nowhere that has an apparition of the Madonna appearing on the bathroom floor. This storyline certainly gives us a brief break from the horrific nature that is Wolf Creek.
And finally, the return of Ben from the first movie is a must note moment. Ben was the original survivor of Mick’s torture chamber. However, unlike Paul from the second film, Ben wasn’t hunted down and tortured. The police had charged Ben for the murders of Kristy and Liz. Paul, who was left in a town, was shipped off to an asylum for mentally disturbed people for spinning a story of an outback killer. Because there was no evidence (honestly, the missing fingers to me would have been a giveaway) police assumed he had heatstroke from wandering around in the desert for so long and consequently didn’t believe him. Even if Paul hadn’t been completely besotted with fear, there would be no way he could lead the authorities back to the bodies. All he really had was a name. And in Australia, Mick Taylor is about as common as John Smith.
However, putting all that aside, the moment when you realize the homeless looking dude is actually Ben is a huge connection to the films. It also gives us an insight into just how the torture effects Mick’s surviving victims. If this is how messed up Ben is, I’d hate to see how Paul is doing.
Wolf Creek TV is a sensational miniseries. Greg McLean and John Jarratt do beautiful work together. Lucy Fry held her own and, like Shannon Ashlyn from Wolf Creek 2, stole the show with a rawness so often missed in modern day horror. I honestly believe, like Ashlyn, she could go on to be a future scream queen.
Entertainment Value: 10/10
Film Quality: 9/10
Overall Rating: 10/10
Wolf Creek TV certainly provides a culture shock and will leave you reeling in fear as you contemplate the wellbeing of the mental state of Australians in general.
But, if after watching Wolf Creek TV, you’re still determined to travel to the land down under and want to go trooping through the outback, I urge you to take the train. It’s much safer. I don’t foresee Mick Taylor shooting one of them off the tracks. Why take the train, you ask? Because here in Australia, we know what really scares you.