Wolf Creek (film): Wikis



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Wolf Creek

Australian poster for Wolf Creek.
Directed by Greg McLean
Produced by David Lightfoot
Greg McLean
Written by Greg McLean
Starring John Jarratt
Cassandra Magrath
Kestie Morassi
Nathan Phillips
Music by Frank Tetaz
Cinematography Will Gibson
Editing by Jason Ballantine
Distributed by Darclight Films
Dimension Films
Release date(s) January 2005 (Sundance)
May 17, 2005 (Cannes)
September 16, 2005 (U.K.)
November 3, 2005 (AU)
December 25, 2005 (U.S.)
Running time 99 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget $1,000,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue $22,500,000

Wolf Creek is a 2005 independent Australian horror film written, co-produced and directed by Greg McLean. The story revolves around three backpackers (Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, and Nathan Phillips) who find themselves held captive by a serial killer (John Jarratt) in the Australian outback. It is loosely inspired by the Backpacker murders that took place in the 1990s, as well as the aforementioned murder of Peter Falconio in summer of 2001; though the film draws inspiration from these events, it was marketed as being "based on true events".

Wolf Creek premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2005 and was later screened at the Cannes Film Festival that spring. It was released in cinemas across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland that fall. In its home country of Australia, the film received a release in November 2005, apart from the Northern Territory, due to the trial surrounding the murder of British traveler Peter Falconio.[1][2] It was later released on December 25, 2005 in the United States.

Although the film received moderately positive to mixed reviews, it was nominated for seven AFI awards, including Best Director. In 2010, the film was included in Slant Magazine's list of the 100 best films of the decade.[3]



Two English tourists, Liz Hunter (Magrath) and Kristy Earl (Morassi), meet with an Australian man, Ben Mitchell (Phillips), at a party, and they decide to spend the rest of their holiday with him. The young trio plans to drive to Wolf Creek, a large crater formed by a 50000 ton meteorite, and explore the area.

Upon returning to their car after hiking down to the crater, the group discovers that the car won't start and, unable to discover the problem, prepare themselves to sit out the night. After dark, a "Crocodile Dundee"-like character named Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) comes upon them and offers to show them to his camp to repair the car. The group allows Mick to take them to his place, a spot which is apparently an abandoned mining site. Mick regales them with tall stories of his past while making a show of fixing the car. His manner unsettles Liz and Kristy, although Ben is less concerned.

Liz awakens to find herself tied up in a shed late the next afternoon. She manages to escape and as night falls she discovers Mick torturing Kristy by shooting at her, tormenting her and sexually abusing her. She sets the group's car alight to cause a distraction and, as Mick is busy putting out the fire, goes to help Kristy. Liz then attempts to shoot Mick with one of his own guns, but the bullet merely grazes his neck and leaves him unconscious. The women flee the camp with Mick's truck, as they do so the two realize he is alive after all. After narrowly avoiding Mick, who is now out searching for them, the women return to the camp to steal another car. Liz leaves the hysterical Kristy outside the gates, telling her to escape on foot if she does not return in five minutes.

Liz enters a garage and discovers Mick's large stock of cars as well as an organized array of travellers’ possessions, including video cameras. She watches the playback on one of them and is horrified to see Mick "rescuing" other travellers stranded at Wolf Creek in almost identical circumstances to her own. She then picks up another camera which turns out to be Ben's. She gets into a car and attempts to start it but Mick shows up in the back seat, announces himself with a haunting chuckle, and stabs her through the driver's seat with a huge bowie knife. He then lops off the index finger, middle finger and ring finger on Liz's left hand in one swipe. While Liz slowly dies from blood loss, Mick uses the opportunity to sever her spinal cord, paralyzing her to prevent her escape. He then tortures her into revealing the location and/or plans of Kristy.

By dawn, Kristy has reached a tarred highway and is found by a passing motorist. He is shot dead from an impressive distance by Mick. Kristy attempts to escape in the motorist's car, but unfortunately for her the chase is short. The action now cuts to Ben, whose fate until now was not revealed. He awakens to find himself nailed to a mock crucifix in a mine shaft.He manages to extract himself and enters the camp in early daylight. From this it could be assumed that the scene is taking place at approximately the same time as Mick is away from the camp chasing Kristy, but the time line of the film is never clear. Ben escapes into the desert, eventually passing out beside a dirt road where he is rescued by two Swedish travellers and taken to safety.

The ending legend reveals that Ben's charges against Mick weren't strong enough and after spending four months in jail, Ben was released and cleared of all suspicion and that he now lives in South Australia. The film then ends with Mick Taylor walking into the sunset, his silhouette gradually fading.



Wolf Creek is set in a real location; however, the actual meteorite crater location is called "Wolfe Creek", and is located in northern Western Australia. It is the second largest meteorite crater in the world from which meteorite fragments have been recovered. Wolf Creek was filmed almost entirely in South Australia; however the aerial shots of the crater in the movie show the genuine Wolfe Creek crater.

Several strange occurrences happened during the production of the film; one particular location that was used during the shooting of the travelers' drive to Wolf Creek had not seen rainfall in over six years - however, once the crew arrived and shooting proceeded, it rained for three continuous days, forcing the writer, director, and actors to incorporate the highly unexpected rainfall into the script. According to Greg McLean, the fact that it was raining and gloomy in an otherwise dry, sunny desert area gave the sequences a feel of "menace".[4] Star Kestie Morassi also mentioned several odd occurrences during an audio commentary for the film, which was the fact that there was a full moon on the first night of shooting the film, and - over a year later, when the film premiered at Sundance - there was also a full moon.

The rock quarry where Mick's mining site is located was the site of a real-life murder, which stirred up controversy from the local residents who mistook the film as being based on that crime.[4] According to director McLean and others, John Jarratt went to extremes in preparing for his role as Mick, emulating real-life serial killer Ivan Milat: he spent significant time alone in the isolated outback, and went for weeks without showering.[5]

Since the film had a relatively low-budget, many of the action scenes involved the real actors; for example, after running through the outback when her character escapes, star Kestie Morassi ended up with hundreds of thorns and nettles in her feet.[4] During the shooting of Morassi's torture scene in the shed, her non-stop screams and crying began to discomfort and unsettle the crew; executive producer Matt Hearn said that the female members of the shooting crew were brought to tears by it, as if someone were actually being tortured.[4]

The film was shot entirely on DV cameras (aside from a few CG scenes) and was mostly handheld, which gave it a more voyeuristic appearance.

Basis in reality

Wolf Creek was marketed as being "based on true events". Wolf Creek was inspired by true events; the Australian Backpacker Murders.

While not based on any single event, Mick Taylor's behaviour in Wolf Creek is reminiscent of some infamous Australian murderers. The murder methods portrayed are similar to those employed by notorious backpacker murderer Ivan Milat during the early 1990s. Milat abducted backpackers, subjected them to torture and buried their bodies in the Belanglo State Forest, southwest of Sydney, New South Wales. Some of his victims were tied up and shot from various angles (the first torture scene in Wolf Creek is similar to this) and one was almost decapitated with a hunting knife. In the film, a sign indicates that the mining site the killer brings his victims to belongs to the "Navitalim Mining Company"; "Navitalim" is Ivan Milat's name transposed and reversed.

In addition, the abduction of British tourist Peter Falconio and the assault of his girlfriend Joanne Lees in July, 2001 by Bradley John Murdoch in the Northern Territory are also cited as influences.[6] Murdoch's trial was still under way at the time of the film's initial release in Australia, and for this reason the Northern Territory court placed an injunction on the film's release there in the belief that it could influence the outcome of the proceedings.


Wolf Creek opened on 151 movie theaters in Australia on November 3, 2005 (the film had previously been shown at a number of film festivals) and took AU$1.225 million in its first weekend, making it the number one film for the weekend. In the United Kingdom, the film was given a modest release on September 16, 2005, and grossed £1,500,000. The film opened on Christmas Day 2005 in the United States and grossed $16,188,180 on American screens, while also garnering an extra $11,574,468 overseas, bringing the total gross to US$27,762,648.[7]

Despite the film's commercial success, it has received a mixed reception from critics. Some critics were deeply offended by the film's brutality, while others praised it for its unorthodoxy and daringness. Critic Roger Ebert gave it a rare zero stars rating, saying, "It is a film with one clear purpose: To establish the commercial credentials of its director by showing his skill at depicting the brutal tracking, torture and mutilation of screaming young women ... I wanted to walk out of the theatre and keep on walking".[8] Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald said that Wolf Creek was the first movie she ever walked out on. She called watching the movie "punishment" and wondered how someone's real death inspired this "entertainment". Nevertheless, it received some very positive reviews in the British press, with The Independent praising its departure from the generic rules of the horror film genre.[9] Notoriously hard to impress Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw awarded it 4/5 stars.[10] Time Out said "by making us feel the pain, Greg McLean's ferocious, taboo-breaking film tells us so much more about how and why we watch horror movies".[11] They admitted, however, that the movie was not for everyone. The film magazines Empire and Total Film gave the film 4/5 stars, with Empire calling it "a grimy gut-chiller that unsettles as much as it thrills, violently shunting you to the edge of your seat before clamping onto your memory like a rusty mantrap".[12] Fangoria called it the scariest film of the year.

At Rotten Tomatoes, Wolf creek has a 53% 'rotten' rating based on 105 reviews.

Alternate versions

The original cut of Wolf Creek ran 104 minutes, approximately 5 minutes longer than the 99 minute cut that was released in cinemas. The extra footage in this cut included an additional scene at the beginning of the film after the party scene, in which Kristy awakens in bed next to Ben at a beach cottage the following morning; this created a romantic subplot between the characters, and was cut from the film for "complicating" matters unnecessarily.[4]

The other additional footage took place when Liz returns to the mining site after leaving Kristy behind; rather than immediately entering the car garage, as she does in the theatrical cut, she finds a revolver and fills it with bullets, and then explores an abandoned mine shaft in order to search for Ben. She subsequently drops her pistol into the shaft, and climbs down inside to find dozens of decomposing bodies. This explains why, in the theatrical cut, the revolver disappears after she enters the car garage. According to director Greg McLean, this scene was cut from the film after test screenings because it was "simply too much", along with all of the other gruesome events that had taken place prior.[4] The scene in which Liz's spine is severed by Mick was also slightly longer, including more close-ups and shots.

When the film premiered in the United States on DVD, both an R-rated cut (which is identical to the theatrical release), and an Unrated cut (which incorporates the aforementioned scenes) were released.

See also


  1. ^ Mercer, Phil (16 October 2005). "Australia gripped by Falconio Mystery". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4344690.stm. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "'Wolf Creek' ban puzzles director". ABC News Australia. 15 December 2005. http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200512/s1531954.htm. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Slant Staff (7 February 2010). "Best of Aughts: Film". Slant Magazine. http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/feature/best-of-the-aughts-film/216. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f McLean, Greg. (2006). Wolf Creek. [DVD]. Genius Productions, Dimension Films. 
  5. ^ The Making of Wolf Creek Documentary. [DVD]. Genius Productions. 2006. 
  6. ^ Bradtke, Birgit. "True Story: The Australian Outback Murder". http://www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com/wolf_creek_true_story.html. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Wolf Creek (2005)". Box Office Mojo. 2006-03-09. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=wolfcreek.htm#at. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  8. ^ "Wolf Creek". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051222/REVIEWS/51220004. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  9. ^ "Film Reviews". Enjoyment.independent.co.uk. 2005-09-18. http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/film/reviews/article313153.ece. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  10. ^ "Wolf Creek". Film.guardian.co.uk. 2005-09-16. http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_review/0,4267,1571117,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  11. ^ "Wolf Creek". Timeout.com. http://www.timeout.com/film/82979.html. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  12. ^ Jolin, Dan. "Review of Wolf Creek". Empire Magazine. 


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