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Film / Wolf Creek

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Wolf Creek is a 2005 Australian horror film directed by Greg McLean.

Very Loosely Based on a True Story (well, several); two English backpackers named Liz Hunter (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy Earl (Kestie Morassi), plus an Australian one they pick up at a party named Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips), are heading out into the Australian wilderness to see the eponymous Wolf Creek; a crater formed by a meteorite impact. Once they've seen it and are leaving, however, they find that their car won't start. A seemingly friendly mechanic named Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) that seems to perfectly and flamboyantly embody every Australian stereotype rolls along and offers to tow their car back to his garage and fix their car for them. They accept; but it turns out he isn't so friendly.

In 2013, McLean decided to expand on the Mick Taylor mythos with a series of projects across several media. A film sequel was released in 2014, depicting Taylor going after a new set of victims and hunting one male tourist in particular across the country. A pair of prequel novels were written with the aid of well known Australian horror authors, one (Origin) exploring Mick's childhood and the beginnings of his proclivities as he comes of age, and the other (Desolation Game) showing his time in the Vietnam War and the start of his predatory stalker tendencies back home in the Outback. Most recently, the Wolf Creek television miniseries sequel explores what would happen if someone actually fought back against Mick and tracked him down out of vengeance for him slaughtering her family (in this case, an American girl named Eve) and the various risks she exposes herself to in doing so, including having to evade law enforcement (who quite rightly want to send her back to the US for her own well being and as she's breaking laws in her mission) and various other criminal entities roaming the desert. A second season, featuring Mick targeting a busload of tourists in the Outback, came out in late 2017.

Now has a character sheet.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Both of them, though Liz a bit more than Kristy. And Eve in the TV series definitely counts, as well.
  • Actor Allusion: The spin-off comic Desolation Game focuses in part on Mick's tour of service in Vietnam. This could be seen as an allusion to John Jarratt's role in the 1979 film The Odd Angry Shot.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Mick appears to die at the end of the first season. Now is this really the case, or did he live on? This remains indeterminate because it's not established if the second season is a prequel, or a sequel to the first season, and thus it may be left to the third film to clarify the question.
  • Artifact Title: Of sorts. While it might be occasionally glimpsed in the sequel/prequel entries, the eponymous meteorite crater is definitely not focused on. Mick and the vast desolate Outback itself are the central, recurring characters, and furthermore the possibly otherworldly aspects of Wolf Creek (implied to fizzle out electronics with it's rare metal deposits, perhaps) are not recurring features in the other works (i.e. cell phones are not really a plot point anymore).
  • Asian and Nerdy: Discussed but averted by Steve in the second season of the TV series. The aboriginals who pick him up make an offhand comment about how Asians are supposed to be good at math, but his response is that he's not.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The cops in the second film who try to nail Mick for speeding even when he was under the speed limit.
    • Kevin, Eve's would-be rapist in the TV series, is castrated and hung upside down by Mick.
  • Awesome Aussie: Mick Taylor is an evil version of this trope, being a Serial Killer version of Mick Dundee.
  • Bad Samaritan: Two British tourists and a local guy are hiking in Australia when their car breaks down. They are picked up by a man named Mick Taylor, who offers to drive them to his home and fix their car. The man turns out to be a serial killer.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Well, it IS set in Australia...
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The Second season of the TV show takes on certain aspects of this.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: The main character, believing she's gotten away from Mick Taylor, gets into a car, then hears his distinctive chuckle in the seat behind her, right before he stabs her in the back.
  • Deadly Road Trip
  • Decoy Protagonist: Done in the sequel, which follows a backpacking couple initially until Mick crashes their camp and kills the boyfriend. The girlfriend gets away and manages to hitch a ride with the real protagonist, Paul. The girlfriend would shortly die afterwards, and we follow Paul the rest of the film as he tries to escape Mick.
    • Done in the original as well, actually. Liz shares a lot of common traits with the standard Final Girl only to die first. The focus then shifts to Kristy, who's coming across like the surprise Final Girl..... only to be murdered by Mick as well just before she escapes. Then Ben, who had vanished for about an hour at this point, escapes from Mick and survives as the final boy.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The first half of the film is getting to know the protagonists on their holiday - as well as Liz and Ben making a love connection. True to the trope, Mick shows up about twenty minutes in (although it's not apparent he's a psychopath at first).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mick cuts Liz's fingers off because she wrecked his truck. This is a central driver for Mick; press any of his numerous triggers or wrong him slightly, and you better hope you have a supercharged car to get away from him in time. You're just as likely to be his victim merely by falling into his radar, however.
  • Double Tap: People always forget to do this to Mick.
  • Dramatic Irony: By the time of the second season, long term fans may have watched both movies, read both books and seen the first season. Hence they will be amply aware about Mick's various loathsome prejudices, and have reason to fear for the lives of a group which includes an Englishman (aka a "pommy"), two black men, a gay man, his (Asian) partner, a "butch" (but not really) lesbian, a German family, Canadians, Americans, an apparently autistic, overweight Kiwi, and a tour guide who tells Mick he's too brash.
  • Evil Laugh: Mick has a rather unsettling snigger. John Jarrett worked on the evil laugh for six months when he was cast.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mick. Don't let his welcoming Crocodile Dundeeish mannerism fool ya. He's a Serial Killer and has more in common with Hannibal Lecter than Crocodile Dundee.
  • Final Girl:
    • Inverted gender-wise. Both girls die. Ben survives.
    • Also inverted in the sequel, where Paul is the only survivor.
    • Played straight in the TV series. Eve is the sole survivor of Mick's rampage this time around, and came the closest anyone has been to actually killing him.
    • Also played straight in season two of the TV show. Kelly is the only survivor of the tourist group, though it's not clear how much longer she'll be alive.
  • Fingore: Mick lops several of Liz's fingers off.
  • Flanderization: In the first movie, Mick "jokes" about how he sees foreigners as "vermin", but doesn't express this belief for the remainder of the movie. Come the sequel, xenophobia is his defining motive to kill.
  • Gorn: Heavily present in all media, but the "Head on a Stick" scene is particularly graphic.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: Mick says this in response to Ben asking him what he does for a living. As it turns out he might as well have discussed his profession anyway...
    • Given a callback in the second season, where he certainly does carry out his threat with a Kiwi tourist.
  • Ironic Echo: Ben makes a joke saying Mick probably loves saying "that's not a knife; this is a knife". Mick sadistically repeats the line just before he kills Liz
  • Land Down Under: The setting for the series, other than the Vietnam War segment of Desolation Game. And the subject of a song in the opening credits for the second season.
  • Large Ham: Mick. He loves shouting a lot and being bombastic while torturing his victims.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: There are a few instances of seemingly paranormal events in the second season. The Indigenous Hunters that encounter Mick call him the Spirit Man. The most damage done to Mick is from The Aboriginal Singing that causes Mick immediate discomfort and pain before it’s even audible and seemingly kills him. Though it’s possible was faking to get an upper hand, or else it really did work and only failed once they stopped singing. As well the Meteor that made Wolf’s Creek is implied to be alien or exerting influence by some characters, but this is chalked up to the infrasoundit makes.
    • This may tie in with the fact that his childhood friend Eddie can either manifest as a spirit or is just a hallucination in the novels. And with how he entices Mick to continue his killing sprees to "feed the land", giving him a spiritual motivation.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Inverted. Ben survives the movie, while both girls die.
  • My Car Hates Me: Invoked. Mick sabotages the trio's car in the first Wolf Creek so that he can kill them.
  • Once is Not Enough: At one point, Liz is able to grab one of Mick's guns and shoot him. She grabs the rifle, instead of the shotgun, and shoots Mick once in the neck. And of course, that just pisses him off. If she hadn't also picked up the Idiot Ball she would have given him a few shots in the face just to be sure; there was no reason she couldn't have done this. Or at least brained him with the butt of the rifle as a club.
  • Out-Gambitted: In an early episode of the miniseries, Mick finds a pair of isolated French "sheilas" with motor trouble. He offers to tow them to his place to repair it. By this point, even a blind fan of the series knows what this is setting up... but the expectation is subverted as several men drive in and interrupt the conversation. The lead guy says he can fix the engine then and there, actually having mechanical expertise and a will to help. He whispers to Mick to fuck off as he knows, at minimum, the creepy old perv is looking for action from these girls. Mick puts his hand on his blade, causing the guy to gulp in hesitation... but Mick doesn't snap this time, probably because he's outnumbered and at least some of the group would escape as living witnesses. The following morning, after an implied orgy, the lead guy is disgruntled and shocked to find his car totaled. But considering what Mick is capable of, vehicular vandalism is more like petty retaliation for him.
  • Serial Killer: Mick Taylor, by now one of the most infamous examples in Aussie horror.
  • Ship Tease: A deleted scene had Kristy waking up sleeping next to Ben (with her clothes on).
  • Shout-Out: Ben quotes "Crocodile" Dundee (see Ironic Echo above)
  • Too Dumb to Live: Liz. She has shot Mick with his rifle and incapacitated him. She initially tries to shoot him again, but when that fails, she just lightly hits him in the chest with the rifle and gives up. She has ample time to find Mick’s large knife or at least hit in in the head with the rifle. Jack and Lil, the old couple from the second film also qualify.
  • Torture Porn: Tamer than most examples. Torture is mostly implied off-screen - it's implied that Mick may have raped Kristy while he had her tied up (her pants are down). Liz and Kristy's demises are relatively blood free. A good amount of tension comes from what Mick might do.
  • Unreliable Narrator: One plausible explanation. All the other characters who witnessed Mick's atrocities didn't live to tell the tale. Ben is the only survivor, and he didn't actually witness Mick commit any of his atrocities, so what we see may simply be his story to the police.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Played straight and subverted. The tomboyish Liz dies first, but the more girly Kristy also dies.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: It's actually based on a number of famous Australian murder cases, but Ivan Milat was clearly the strongest influence, based on Taylor's way of selecting victims (backpackers), the switch in demeanour, that it's a man who survives to tell the tale (Paul Onions escaped the real Milat by leaping from a car and running into oncoming traffic), and the way Taylor deals with his victims.