Wolf Creek: Unrated Version

Wolf Creek: Unrated Version (2004)
Genius Products
Cast: John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi
Extras: Documentary, Audio Commentary, Deleted Scene, Trailer

If you consider yourself a true horror fan, especially one that has stood by the genre though this last decade or so when it really hasn't produced anything too memorable, your considerable patience is about to pay off. Deciding to watch "Wolf Creek" gave me the opportunity to experience a complete throwback to the disturbingly terrifying classics of the early to late 1970's. Hearing modern filmmakers compare the terror to the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," I could not agree more with those claims.

Refreshingly presented, realistically acted and well written, "Wolf Creek" is a terror fest that won't soon be forgotten. The film easily joins the ranks as one of the more superior productions to have ever been produced from this genre. You really have to admire horror fans these days, especially ones who have sat through remake after remake or worse, a poorly executed rip-off of an original classic that doesn't even possess a single shed of originality. I'm sure some people gave up on newer horror films all together as most of them seem to quickly expose themselves as nothing more than a cheap thrill or a complete waste of time.

This is where "Wolf Creek" really shines. The film in no way attempts to pay homage to classic horror films from the past, it doesn't even try to put a new twist on an old theme. Instead, "Wolf Creek" possesses the feel of some of those greats that we have all come to love, admire over the years. Never bombarding the story with over the top CGI effects or forcing the viewer sit through excruciatingly painful attempts to turn socialites into actors (and you know which film I am referring to here), "Wolf Creek" never forgets what it sets out to do from the beginning, and that's to scare the crap out you, plain and simple.

Sure there are a few notable faults. But what would a horror film be without at least one of the main characters attempting the, what I like to call "going back in the house or scene of the crime, up the stairs and through THAT door" syndrome. My favorite situation is when either you or someone watching a horror movie with you begins yelling at the screen wondering why the hell he/she doesn't run for their lives after temporarily escaping the grasp of (insert favorite screen villain here).

The story of "Wolf Creek" is pretty simple on the surface, the film even comes with the notation "based on true events", something that makes the story all that more disturbing.

"Wolf Creek" is the story of twenty something friends Liz Hunter (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy Earl (Kestie Morassi), two female British backpackers who join up with local Australian resident Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips) for a road trip through the back roads of the Outback, headed toward the seaside destination of Broome. Seeing the local sights along the way leads the trio to the Wolf Creek National Park, which features a large crater that offers the group an afternoon of hiking. Spending the better part of the day in the park, they head back to the car to continue on their journey west. After noticing that their wristwatches have stopped working and even worse, their car suddenly won't start, the three individuals become temporarily stranded and decide to spend the night in their car.

Later that night, lonely truck driver Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) coincidentally stops by to offer his assistance to the helpless travelers. Insisting that he can fix their car problems by towing them to his shop, where he has the appropriate parts to work on their car. Hesitant at first, Ben decides that they have no choice but to go with this rougher looking character as their options are rather limited at the moment. Towing their car back to his home, which turns out to be a deserted mine, the gang hunkers around a campfire taking up Mick's offer for some much needed drinking water. Shortly after ingesting the so-called "fresh" rainwater, the three fall fast asleep. When Liz abruptly awakens, bound and gagged in a locked tool shed, the true terror of the situation quickly becomes evident.

Since "Wolf Creek" had such an effect on me, as I knew very little details surrounding the film, I won't be a part of divulging anymore of the story. I solely believe that most films these days lose their full impact, thanks to the ever lengthening trailers for upcoming films that, in many cases, destroys any element of surprise for the viewer.

"Wolf Creek" is a welcoming addition to the horror genre. The brutally raw and visually horrific at times, "Wolf Creek" will definitely take fans of horror back to a time when these films were truly frightening.

Dimension Films presents "Wolf Creek" to the North American audience in a beautiful anamorphic enhanced matted widescreen transfer, preserving the original theatrical exhibition of the film. Thanks to "Wolf Creek" being shot in the high definition medium, the presentation is wonderfully sharp and crisp. Color saturation is top notch, delivering naturally appearing flesh tones and highlighting the rustic colors of the rugged Australian Outback. Black levels remain rich and deep throughout the entire presentation, providing great shadow delineation and an overall wealth of fine detail. The only minor thing to note is the slightest introduction of aliasing during a couple of scenes, which is so subtle it's almost unmentionable. The transfer also comes free and clear of any visible dust or dirt particles. The one difference that true cinema buffs may have a problem with is the fact that high definition does not take on the full characteristic of traditional film stock, lacking the softness and "feel" that we have come to expect from the traditional medium. Other than that, "Wolf Creek" will provide a near reference quality presentation that is sure to become a showcase DVD for your home theater.

The provided Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is mixed to produce the right amount of tension at just the precise moments in the film. Appropriate utilization of all available channels, including smooth rich bass from the lower frequency channel, fittingly matches the visual presentation. The soundtrack for "Wolf Creek" also provides vocal tracks that are reproduced to appear natural throughout the films entire exhibition without any distortion whatsoever.

Venturing into the special features section, we are presented with a full-length audio commentary, featuring participation from; director Greg McLean, producer Matt Hearn and actors Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi.

A well put together behind the scenes documentary simply titled "The Making of Wolf Creek" is as informative as it is entertaining. The presentation provides details surrounding the filmmaker's goal of setting out to create a true "Australian" horror icon with their introduction of the Mick Taylor character, to join in the villainous ranks of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Nicely presented, this documentary is well worth the 50 minutes of time invested. One very short deleted scene titled "G' Day" and a theatrical trailer complete the added value materials found on this "Unrated" DVD of "Wolf Creek".

"Wolf Creek" is a truly welcomed addition to modern horror. The film may even win over fans that have long since abandoned the horror genre. All I can say is it's about bloody time.