When it comes to horror sequels, something tends to get lost in translation; the follow up will rarely do more than enact round 2 of what the first one had to offer, upping the gore and shifting the set-pieces. The films that survive seem to be the ones that throw their eggs in the proverbial basket with their lead villains, fleshing out the most despicable characters as strange guides through a violent and sadistic world. Contemporary horror has a startling lack of truly original villains, characters like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Chucky, The Candyman, seem to find it difficult to stick around in the new world. Apart from Jigsaw and Victor Crowley, remakes seem to feed the audiences need for old-school horror villains.
Thankfully, Greg McLean returns to writing and directing duties for the sequel to his hit 2005 outback slasher Wolf Creek and in the process creates one of the most enjoyably vicious screen-killers in ages. Wolf Creek 2 isn’t really connected to the first, instead it carries on documenting killer Mick Taylor’s (John Jarratt) sadistic exploits in the Australian outback, with a new collection of backpackers to stalk and butcher. The narrative isn’t exactly gold, but that’s not where the charm is focused. As already hinted, it’s all in the execution. Swapping the ultra-intense form and content of the first film for a slightly lighter tone, Wolf Creek 2 makes the scope of its feature bigger without forsaking the quality of any of its parts.
The gore is as visceral as the first, the torture is just as degrading and difficult to watch, but beyond all this is the writing of Mick Taylor and the continued involvement of John Jarratt. Jarratt’s particular brand of sadistic humour will have you holding your sides and covering your eyes, his comic timing, delivery, but capacity to be utterly vile, make him entrancing to behold. Seriously, this is the perfect mix of horror and humour with numerous opportunities for Jarratt to flaunt his consummate skill as a performer. Taylor’s evolution into fully fledged, but still entirely mysterious, horror legend has come at the hands of great writing and stellar acting from two of Australia’s most gifted talents.
McLean deserves just as much credit for the look of his sequel as he does for the writing. It’s easy to forget how gorgeous a film Wolf Creek 2 is with all that death and anguish. Take time to consider cinematographer Toby Oliver’s vast plains and rocky deserts – which provide a backdrop for this sordid game of cat and mouse – and you’ll find a film that perfectly encapsulates an alien aesthetic in the outback.
Consistently hilarious and shocking, Wolf Creek 2 surpasses expectations of horror sequels and carves a path for the series to chase if it gets another instalment. Which hopefully happens since at this rate, the third entry should be stellar.