Wolf Creek Episode One
Eve, a 19-year-old American tourist is targeted by crazed serial killer Mick Taylor. She survives his attack and embarks on a mission of revenge.
October 14, 2016 on the Pop Network
First things first. Let’s lay it all out on the table, shall we?
I saw the first film long before I was professionally reviewing my beloved horror films, so I don’t have extensive notes/thoughts on that initial experience. However, I found this little blurb on my personal blog from all the way back in the summer of 2006:
“A beautifully shot film, and a semi-interesting villain, but plum full of characters making bad decisions and exhibiting non-logic (is that a word?). Even more-so than the average horror film. Overall, an unpleasant experience, and not in the good way.”
And that about sums it up.
All that being said, this six-episode arc, a television mini-series – going by the same name as the films; Wolf Creek, may be worthy of some additional examination beyond the first episode (which is the only piece we’re reviewing here).
An American family from Nebraska (complete with flapping US flags atop their massive RV), has come to the Outback for a “vacation”, but truly, the couple Roland and Ingrid Throrogood (Robert Taylor and Maya Stange; respectively) have flown across the world to allow their 19 year old daughter Eve (Lucy Fry) and Olympic track hopeful – to overcome her drug addiction. Younger brother Ross (Cameron Caulfield) is also in tow. One night as they set up camp near a billabong (the first episode’s title), an attack by a crocodile brings them into contact with pig-hunter and serial killer; Mick Taylor (John Jarratt of the film franchise). He does his thing (brutally butchering the family), but believes his one gunshot to the back of Eve, was enough to do her in. However, Eve survives and a police investigation begins. But as in most stories, the authorities are of little help, so Eve takes it upon herself to find Mick Taylor and exact her revenge.
That’s the first episode in a nutshell, and we can assume from here, that it’ll be a cat-n-mouse, road trip story, as Eve searches for Taylor. As the old saying goes, the hunter becomes the hunted.
As my notes from ten years ago suggest, that original film was a real visual stunner. The same holds true for this first episode. It’s hard to screw up when you’re shooting something as gorgeous and picturesque as the Australian Outback, and the filmmakers have outdone themselves. Camera-work was solid (although I could have done with a little less slo-mo) and all of the technical aspects achieved success.
Performance-wise, I was pleased with the work of lead actress Fry; as our heroine Eve. She cries, stews and emotes – but there was something off-putting about her. As an actress she’s good, but I didn’t necessarily like Eve. See my thoughts below for a further explanation.
The second lead in this first episode is Sullivan Hill, the detective working Eve’s case. He’s played by Dustin Clare (of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena). He’s an appetizing love-child of Zac Efron and Jake Gyllenhaal. And while we don’t have much history on him yet, his looks are certainly enough to get us interested in where the character goes from here. And lest I be labeled as a shallow ass, his acting abilities were also notably solid.
From what I recall of the first film, we got a bit more screen-time with Jarratt than we do here. Of course, there are five more episodes to expand upon his story as well. Based on this episode alone, it’s all pretty over-the-top and gruff – what fans of the films (I’m sure) have come to expect from Mick Taylor. I do hope that we’ll get some additional insight into his background (perhaps we do in the two sequels, what do I know?), but it seems clear this story is about Eve and what she has set out to do. But I’m sure Jarratt will deliver all that fans will want to see.
There are some pretty excellent kills in the opening of the episode – gory, unflinching and unmerciful. I do recall that this pseudo-torture porn feel of the original film, was one of my gripes and turn-offs. It’s very straight-forward, but I like my gore and ultra-violence to have a reason. If I can understand it more thoroughly, I’ll find less fault with the graphic intensity it brings. Technically though, the effects are expertly done.
There were a couple of scares – but mostly from the crocodile in the opening. You see it coming, but it still manages to elicit a squeal and a jump.
Story-wise, I am intrigued enough to follow, but I don’t feel as though it’s a priority in my foreseeable screening schedule. And with a short 6-episode arc, it’s not a huge commitment. And yet I’m not totally grabbed.
I think one of the problems is that Eve has not really had a journey – at least not yet. Perhaps they’ll be more as the series goes on, but the character is starting at a point where an uphill battle is imminent. We don’t necessarily like her. She’s a spoiled, rich, white American girl, who has squandered her athletic gifts in favor of drugs. In this first episode, before things go horribly for her family, she’s a somber, pouty child. It’s not exactly the type of personality an audience immediately latches on to. And frankly, that’s the series’ (at least this initial episode’s) biggest stumbling block.
If indeed Eve takes to kicking ass, as I expect her to, it’ll be worth finishing through to the end to see a final showdown between her and this now-iconic horror movie personality. But again – let’s hope that Eve becomes a more likable character, or even 6 episodes could become challenging.
There are some logic problems (where does Eve get money to rent/buy a van and pay for the oodles of gas it’s going to take to navigate the Australian continent), and why on earth would parents let a young child swim in a backwater billabong, when goodness knows there will be crocodiles or any other number of dangerous critters about? It’s Australia, for heaven’s sake! As I’ve said before, the devil’s in the details, and by gum, I need explanation for things like this!
And you just know that there are going to be plenty of opportunities for the filmmakers to use Eve’s athleticism and running abilities to move the story along, and certainly to humiliate Mick Taylor.
Greg McClean – the creator of the film franchise, is also credited here as executive producer. He also directed the season one finale.
The series was released in Australia in May, and in the UK in August. It’s scheduled for release in the US on October 14th, 2016.