Directed by Greg McLean
Written by Greg McLean, Aaron Sterns
Starring John Jarratt, Ryan Corr
Some of you will be very pleased to hear that pig-hunter Mick Taylor is back. Greg McLean returns to the outback for another outing inspired by allegedly true events, featuring the hunter of animals and unwitting backpackers alike when they venture too close to Wolf Creek Crater.
John Jarratt returns as Mick Taylor, who we will all remember from the original film which impressed more than expected, providing Writer/Director McLean with the opportunity to have another stab at turning our stomachs. Mad as a box of frogs, once more we can revel or be suitably disgusted by Mick’s bushtucker antics, as he kidnaps unsuspecting tourists and does all manner of horrible things to them, for reasons best known to himself.
And if we’re honest, this is pretty much ‘one more time, please’, as the setup is practically identical to the original film, with the only real notable differences being an improved and even sometimes funny script and the questionable bonus of a bit of backfiller about Mick Taylor himself. He’s just as vicious and just as loopy as last time, but now he is a might funnier and more approachable, which makes him all the more sinister and dangerous. McLean has even provided Taylor with a modicum of charm and a hint of realism that was noticeably absent previously.
The narrative is still completely ridiculous, of course, and McLean does ask his audience to provide him with at least some artistic licence in order to make the film more appealing and entertaining. Even as Mick remarks about ‘flying kangaroos’ as he mows over a family of them in his eighteen-wheeler, you get the distinct impression that you might actually like this cold-blooded psychopath more than you originally thought you did and almost certainly more than you should, which makes this an interesting premise, given that so little is developed in other areas. The rest of the cast, the victims essentially, have little or no depth to their characters and this purposeful non-action on McLean’s part forces you to identify with the only character you are really able to engage with and appreciate; that being the killer. The bad-guy. The man we are supposed to hate in order for our own societal morality levels to be maintained.
It would be fair to suggest, in fact, that we haven’t had a villain quite like this for some time. One that gets the pulses racing and commands the majority of the screen time, does awful things to innocent people and yet still often raises an appreciative smile from his audience whenever he so much as opens his mouth. This causes mixed feelings on the part of the viewer who subsequently may become less repulsed by Mick’s actions than they should and this is accentuated by the belief, at times, that Mick is not quite as rabid and maniacal as your average blood-lusting serial killer ought to be.An increased budget makes for some inventive and welcome scenes that go beyond the mere suffering of the innocents and McLean proves he has an eye for action as well as uncomfortable torture porn. But by the third act, the film has returned to its profitable roots and gone careering off in the other direction, away from any comical elements and firmly back in the realm of unbridled, helpless pain and misery, albeit interspersed with some witty, entertaining scripting.
In all, a slight improvement on the original, mostly due to the great performances of John Jarratt and Ryan Corr as hunter and hunted. The script is often impressive enough to make you think if it really deserves to be here and is funny enough to raise a chuckle or two, rightly or wrongly. A possibly overlong final act does detract from the overall feel, but on the the whole, this is worthy of your time.
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