TV Review: Wolf Creek 1.1 “Billabong”
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Wolf Creek
Episode 1.1 “Billabong”
Created by Greg McLean
Directed by Tony Tilse
Written by Peter Gawler
Starring: Lucy Fry, John Jarratt, Dustin Clare, Deborah Mailman, Damian De Montemas, Maya Stange
Pop TV
Air date: Friday, October 14, 2016, 10pm ET/PT

Back in 2005, Greg McLean directed Wolf Creek, a low-budget horror film based on true events. It told the story of a group of backpackers who are targeted by a sadistic maniac in the Australian Outback. The film was raw, disturbing, and visceral. It grossed over $16 million on a paltry $1 million budget and is looked upon very positively by horror fans, mainly due to the charismatic performance of John Jarratt as Mick Taylor, one of horror’s most grinningly charismatic modern villains. After a sequel in 2013, McLean helped adapt his films to television, and the 6-episode miniseries launched in Australia in May of this year, with Jarratt back to star.

Now, the miniseries premieres in the U.S. later today on Pop TV.

The Thorogood family is on “rehab” (cough) vacation. Eve (Lucy Fry) is 19, a track athlete, and a recovering pill addict. Her family, including dad, Roland (Robert Taylor), mom, Ingrid (Maya Stange), and little brother Ross (Cameron Caulfield), are driving through Australia’s Northern Territory in a winnebago. They make a stop at a watering hole, obviously having never seen ANY American movies about Australia because Ross grabs an inflatable raft and hits the water… c’mon kid, the country’s most popular export used to be CROCODILE Dundee and CROCODILE Hunter! When a croc does attack, a bullet puts it down and the Thorogoods are quick to welcome the shooter to drinks at a campfire. Mick Taylor is quickly showing off his weapons and cracking inappropriate jokes, and before we even see the opening credits, three quarters of the family are brutally murdered with Eve assumed “croc bait” after a gunshot. This show certainly does not take long to get going.

Eve is found alive, her wounds healed at the local hospital. She meets Police Chief Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare). He seems like a stereotypical “nothing ever happens in the town” cop, except things have happened — missing tourists all over the territory. All Eve remembers of the murderer is his blue truck and she is sure she recognizes the truck in the background of a photo of other “missing persons.” She doesn’t want to stay alone at a hotel and her nerves are becoming almost a chore for Hill.

Eve literally at one points chases down a blue truck, and attacks some poor trucker in a strip joint. Meanwhile, we see snippets of Mick dancing around drunk in the dark and then stumbling on to a woman doing roadside yoga. There is no rhyme or reason for him. That’s not a complaint, that’s one of the intriguing things about the Wolf Creek films. Mick Taylor is just bloody insane. Eve is relentless and refuses to leave the country without putting up a fight and finding her family’s murderer.

This has the makings of a pretty cool little series. I like the direction being a revenge thriller with the killer being the target rather than a straightforward horror narrative of running from the killer for multiple episodes. The opening 10 minutes are like a crash course on what not to do in Australia, and John Jarratt is so brutal in his debut scene, that honestly the episode struggled to get back on track after and tended to drag slightly. That said, you give me blood and gore, you give me a good villain, and a hero that’s easy to identify with, and I am a happy camper. Horror is a genre that can be so simple and sometimes on television to fit the episodic formula, they stretch things out and get way too complicated. Wolf Creek is straight to the mother f’n point. See that, that’s a knife, and now it’s slitting your throat!

Wolf Creek debuts tonight on Pop TV at 10:00 pm. It is proceeded at 8:00pm by Greg McLean’s original 2005 film.

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