Wolf Creek – TV Review: Not the Teen Wolf and Dawson’s Creek mash-up you were hoping for

10 October, 2016 — by Joachim Farncombe0

Wolf Creek is a six-part TV spin-off from the movie of the same name. You’ll wonder why they bothered, and you’ll wonder why you’re not watching something much better.

Lucy Fry and John Jarratt in Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek follows American teenager Eve Thorogrood (Lucy Fry) on holiday with her family in Northern Australia. Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) reprises his role as the sadistic serial killer from the movies, viciously slaughtering Eve’s family for his own pleasure. Eve survives, escapes and spends the next six episodes trying to track down Taylor to bring him to justice.

The first episode is exposition-heavy to say the least. We discover in the first five minutes that Eve is a high school track athlete who’s addicted to painkillers. This is important as it means she can RUN and JUMP, and that she is also an INTERESTING and COMPLEX character. Some of that last sentence is true. Taylor is like Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee’s evil twin (there’s even a reference to everyone’s favourite “that’s not a knife” scene). He’s a bushman, he hunts, but instead of being all twinkly-eyed and charming he very often gets a bit murderey, quipping and punning as he goes.

Once the rapid, pre-credit gory killings of Eve’s family are done and the very-much-stolen-from-True-Detective credits finish, the show attempts to settle awkwardly into its narrative. It often feels like a script conceived by college media students. There are guns and drugs and bad guys everywhere, characters wonder in and out of the story and tonally, it jars. Wolf Creek is clumsily sign-posted and lazy; there’s not enough to hold the attention and the feeling that there are dozens of other superior shows one could be watching never really goes away.

It does look great – cinematographer Geoffrey Hall, who shot Chopper, captures the vast emptiness of the outback with panache, although the frequent slow motion and creative framing – while attractive in their own right – serve little purpose and feel incongruous.

The Northern Territory and Western Australia are portrayed as truly hellish places, there’s a post apocalyptic feel reminiscent of Mad Max. If you removed Hardy and Theron, the amazing vehicles and all the fun and creativity from Fury Road, you’d be left with the Wolf Creek universe. This series would certainly not be used by the local tourist board. It’s a terrible place. Preposterously bad things happen, every male character is either trying to rape or kill Eve and the body count suggests local law enforcement needs a rethink.

Eve Thorogood with a knife
That IS a knife

Tony Tilse (a Ash vs Evil Dead regular) directs the first five episodes. He makes the best of the source material and it’s hard to fault the performances he gets out of his leads. There’s a real sense that he would be more comfortable dealing with actual demons and ghouls rather than the apocryphal fallen angel that is Mick Taylor. Perhaps it would’ve been more successful if he was allowed to shape it outside of the reality Wolf Creek attempts to depict.

Ultimately, it’s the story that lets Wolf Creek down. It barely sustains interest through the six episodes. It feels confused and there are really only outline sketches of ideas. The frequent religious references and allegories are random and incoherent. Plus there’s an inherent lack of tension partly because we know that Eve cannot be killed off half-way through as there wouldn’t be a story without her.

Oh and there’s a second series being made, so that’s probably ruined the final episode for you too. But you really shouldn’t make it that far anyway. 1/5

Wolf Creek – Season One

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