Wolf Creek - The Complete Season One TV Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Eureka Entertainment
Directed by Tony Tilse (5 episodes) and Greg McLean (1 episode)
Written by Peter Gawler, Felicity Packard,Greg McLean
2016, Rated 18 (UK)
UK series premiere on August 30th 2016 on FOX
John Jarratt as Mick Taylor
Lucy Fry as Eve Thorogood
Dustin Clare as Sullivan Hill
Andy McPhee as Beard
Damian de Montemas as Inspector Darwin
Strewth! Has Mick Taylor met his match at last? Such is the question that drives Wolf Creek the TV series, following a two-piece movie franchise (until now) in which its big bad serial killer’s inevitable, cruel and vicious triumph has always been the main attraction. And not in a satisfying Freddy or Jason way either –a variety of chummy, amiable young things usually and unfairly being the ones finding their way to the pointy end of Mick’s oversized Crocodile Dundee knife. There’s no denying John Jarratt’s charisma as Mick, but watching him do his thing is no fun. Well, not much, anyway.
Case in point: the opening act of carnage that propels this series into being. Rescued from the jaws of a man-eating crocodile by Mick and his rifle, a family of American tourists are more than happy to welcome the eccentric sideburned huntsman into their camp. It takes Mick little time to get to work, slicing up Mom, Dad and baby brother in quick succession. Only eldest daughter Eve survives, taking a bullet for her trouble, but ultimately fleeing the madman. Consider revenge sworn, and by the most unlikely foe Mick Taylor ever faced, no less.
Mick Taylor versus teenage girl barely sounds as though it could sustain one ninety minute movie, let alone six episodes’ worth of television and yet, for the most part, it works. Following its very Mick-heavy first episode, I was left terrified that the rest of Wolf Creek Series 1 would be slasher villain overkill (pun intended), particularly given the antagonist’s penchant for being a downright insufferable loudmouth at times. Taylor is a fine horror creation and Jarrett plays him to perfection, but at the same time, he’s a gigantic pain in the ass, from his obnoxious initial nice guy act to his sadistic snarling and monologuing once his evil is revealed. Thankfully, after the first episode, the action and story are far more focused on Eve and her journey – hunting Mick on the road, gradually picking up the skills and arsenal to take him down once and for all. It’s not quite a game of cat and mouse; rather a game of two cats, one being a massive bloody lion, the other a meek housecat that thinks it’s far more adept at hunting than it actually is.
Allowing Mick to slide into the background lets the world expand as Eve explores the Australian outback and meets a host of (usually unsavoury) locals on her journey, including escaped convicts, biker gangs, a tough trucker, a tacked-on copper incapable of doing up his shirt buttons, and a mysterious man named Jesus who may hold the secret to her ultimately trapping Mick. But, as though to remind you that this is Wolf Creek, Mick does show up at regular intervals to crank up the body count and bloodshed (maybe too regularly – pushing the credibility of Mick as an anonymous, never-caught serial killer to breaking point). Fear not, the bloodthirsty; the move to TV has dampened none of Wolf Creek’s excesses, being easily as gory as the movies and almost as cruel.
Like Ash vs the Evil Dead, it dovetails neatly to return to certain set-pieces from the original movie, as well as providing unexpected insight into the origins of Mick Taylor. Fans of the movies should get a kick from all of this, while those who hated them for their glorification of Mick’s crimes should – thanks to Eve’s big role in the story – find it ultimately more palatable. For me, who has always enjoyed Wolf Creek but detested Mick Taylor, this is the best in the series so far. The slowed (but not too slow) pace and trippy outback scenes lend a surprisingly artful feel, while the whole thing looks downright beautiful, making the most of the barren desert and its weirdly Gothic landscape. That haunting theme tune (played over the True Detective style credits) will stick with you for days, too.
At a time in which apparently every horror franchise ever made needs its own TV series, Wolf Creek is a fine addition to the roster. Unlike most others, it feels like an extended version of the movies, and it perhaps isn’t inventive or original enough in places (unlike, say, Hannibal, which tops the genre) but in this case, the route taken really works. Like the Australian outback, it sprawls. But at the same time, and at a mere six episodes, it never outstays its welcome and feels tighter and more purposeful than the otherwise wonderful Ash vs the Evil Dead or dreadful soap opera that is Bates Motel.
Were it to end now, Wolf Creek the TV series would be the perfect capper to the franchise, coming full circle and going out on a high. It’s satisfying in a way I didn’t think the franchise was capable of; brutal, scary and sparing enough in its use of Mick Taylor to make him scary again. But of course, the door is left wide open for more. If we’ve learned anything from Wolf Creek, it’s that Mick Taylor never calls it quits.