In Australia in 1999, two British tourists, Liz Hunter (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy Earl (Kestie Morassi), are backpacking across the country with Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips), an Australian friend from Sydney. Currently in Broome, Western Australia, they constantly get drunk at wild, extravagant pool parties and camp out on the beach. Ben buys a dilapidated Ford XD Falcon for their road journey from Broome to Cairns, Queensland via the Great Northern Highway.
After stopping at Halls Creek for the night, the trio make another stop at Wolf Creek National Park, which contains a giant crater formed by a 50,000-ton meteorite. While exploring the crater, Ben and Liz kiss. Hours later, upon returning to their car, the group discovers that their watches have all suddenly broken and that the car will not start. Unable to solve the problem, they prepare to sit out the night. After dark, a rural man named Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) comes across them and offers to tow them to his camp to repair the car. Initially hesitant, the group allows Mick to take them to his place, an abandoned mining site several hours south of Wolf Creek. Mick regales them with tall stories of his past while making a show of fixing their car. His manner unsettles Liz and Kristy, although Ben is less concerned. While they sit around a fire, Mick gives the tourists drugged water which eventually causes them to fall unconscious.
Liz awakens late the next afternoon to find herself tied up in a shed. She manages to break free as night falls, but before she can escape from the mining site, she hears Mick torturing Kristy in a garage, and witnesses him sexually assault her. Liz sets the now-dismantled Falcon on fire to distract him, and goes to help Kristy while Mick is busy trying to extinguish the blaze. When he returns Liz manages to shoot Mick with his own rifle, the bullet hitting him in the neck and apparently killing him. The women attempt to flee the camp in Mick's truck, but a wounded Mick stumbles out of the garage and shoots at them with a double-barreled shotgun, before giving chase in another truck. The girls evade Mick by rolling his truck off a cliff and hiding behind a bush, before returning to the mining site to get 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 another garage and discovers Mick's large stock of cars as well as an organised 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, and while viewing some of Ben's footage, she notices Mick's truck in the background, indicating he'd been following them long before they got to Wolf Creek. She gets into a car and attempts to start it, but Mick shows up in the back seat and stabs her through the driver's seat with a large knife. After more bragging and mad about his truck getting wrecked, he hacks three of Liz's fingers off in one swipe, and headbutts her into near unconsciousness. He then severs her spinal cord with a knife, paralyzing her and rendering her a "head on a stick". He then proceeds to interrogate her as to Kristy's whereabouts before killing her (offscreen).
By dawn, a barefoot Kristy has reached a highway and is discovered by a passing motorist. He attempts to help Kristy, but is shot dead from far away by Mick, who has a sniper rifle. Mick gives chase in a fast Holden HQ Statesman, prompting Kristy to take off in the dead man's car. She succeeds in running Mick off the road, but he gets out of the car and shoots out Kristy's back tire, causing the car to flip over. A disoriented Kristy climbs out of the wreckage and attempts to crawl away, but is shot dead by Mick. He bundles Kristy's body into the back of the wrecked car, along with the body of the dead motorist, and torches the car before driving off.
Ben, whose fate until now has not been revealed, awakens to find himself nailed to a mock crucifix in a mine shaft, with an aggressive, caged Rottweiler in front of him. He manages to extract himself from the crucifix and enters the camp in early daylight. Ben escapes into the outback, but becomes dehydrated, and eventually passes out beside a dirt road. He is discovered by two shocked Swedish travellers who take him to Kalbarri, where he is airlifted to a hospital.
A series of title cards states that the bodies of Kristy and Liz were never found, despite several major police searches. Early investigations were disorganised and hampered by confusion, lack of physical evidence, and the alleged credibility of Ben. After four months in police custody, Ben was cleared of all suspicion. The film ends with the silhouette of Mick Taylor walking into the sunset with his rifle in hand.
- John Jarratt as Mick Taylor
- Cassandra Magrath as Liz Hunter
- Kestie Morassi as Kristy Earl
- Nathan Phillips as Ben Mitchell
- Guy O'Donnell as Car Salesman
- Geoff Revell as Graham (petrol station attendant)
- Andy McPhee as Bazza (pervert in petrol station)
- Aaron Sterns as Bazza's mate
- Michael Moody as Bazza's older mate
- Gordon Poole as Old man
- Guy Petersen and Jenny Starvall as Swedish backpackers who help Ben
- Greg McLean (cameo) as Policeman
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, but the aerial shots of the crater in the film 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 travellers' 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." Star Kestie Morassi also mentioned several odd occurrences during an audio commentary for the film, including 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. According to director McLean and others, John Jarratt went to extremes in preparing for his role as Mick, in a bid to emulate, as close as possible, the real-life serial killer Ivan Milat: he spent significant time alone in the isolated outback and went for weeks without showering.
The sign on the front gate of Mick's mining site reads "Navithalim Mining Co."; Navithalim spelt backwards reads: Milaht Ivan, evidently referencing Ivan Milat.
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. 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.
The film was shot digitally on the HDCAM format and was mostly handheld (aside from a few static composite shots).
Basis in reality Edit
Wolf Creek was marketed as being "based on true events."
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 cited as influences. 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. Many are misled into thinking that the entire movie is based on a true story, when it only had many influences from other murders around Australia, such as the Ivan Milat Backpacker Murders and the Peter Falconio murder case.
Box office Edit
Wolf Creek opened on 151 cinemas in Australia on 3 November 2005 (the film had previously been shown at a number of film festivals) and took A$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 16 September 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.
Critical response Edit
On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator Wolf Creek has a "rotten" score of 53% based on 110 reviews with an average rating of 5.6 out of 10. The critical consensus states: "Though Wolf Creek is effectively horrific, it is still tasteless exploitation." The film also has a score of 54 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 26 critics indicating "mixed or average reviews". CinemaScore audience polling gave the film an "F".
Critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-times gave it a 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". The Seattle Times film critic Moira Macdonald said that Wolf Creek was the first film she ever walked out on. She called watching the film "punishment" and wondered how someone's real death inspired this "entertainment". The Independent praised its departure from the generic rules of the horror film genre. Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw awarded it 4/5 stars. 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". They admitted, however, that the film 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". Fangoria called it the scariest film of the year.
Film critics David Edelstein and Bilge Ebiri placed "Wolf Creek" at 25th on their list of "the 25 Best Horror Films Since The Shining."