"Wolf Creek" is an Australian horror movie written, directed and co-produced by Greg McLean. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January 2005. The movie follows three young backpackers who are abducted while traveling through the Australian outback. They are then brutalized by a psychotic loner named Mick Taylor. The movie's release was delayed in Australia's Northern Territory, as it was thought to bear similarities to a then-current murder trial.
Opening and Abduction
Two young British backpackers, Liz (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy (Kestie Morassi), meet an Australian named Ben (Nathan Scott Phillips) at a party. The three decide to travel together across the outback, and they stop at the Wolf Creek meteorite impact site. After hiking to the crater, the travelers return to their car, only to find that it won't start. They are grateful to meet a stranger called Mick (John Jarratt), who offers to tow them to his camp and repair the car. At the isolated camp, Mick gives the youngsters drugged water and they fall asleep.
Escape Attempt and Conclusion
Liz awakens to find herself tied up in a shed. She manages to escape and to rescue Kristy, whom Mick had been torturing. The two flee in Mick's truck, but crash it in their haste and have to return to the camp for another vehicle. There, Liz finds video footage suggesting they were not the first backpackers Mick had picked up in the same way. Before she can leave the camp, Mick stabs and paralyzes her before setting out to find Kristy. Ultimately, only Ben, who had been fixed to a mock crucifix, manages to escape. With no sign of either Mick or his victims' bodies, Ben becomes a suspect in the girls' disappearance, but there is no clear-cut evidence against him. The movie ends with a shot of Mick, still at large, walking into the sunset.
Themes and Influences
In the "Wolf Creek" production notes, writer and director Greg McLean says the idea of the movie started "with the notion of a terrifying, lone character inhabiting the Australian Outback." The character of Mick Taylor, says McLean, "reverses all of the clichés about the classic Australian bushman type, exemplified by "Crocodile Dundee" and Steve Irwin ... these are two of our most popular cultural exports -- but what if we created a character who exemplified the darkest, most sinister and monstrous aspects of this essential Australian archetype?" The movie was also partly inspired by the Australian mystery movie "Picnic At Hanging Rock" and by a number of real-life murder cases, McLean says.
Links to True Events
"There have been numerous serial murders that stunned Australians and terrified international onlookers," says McLean in the production notes. "Australia, once the world's favorite beach, suddenly became a place where lonely, deranged men with murder on their minds stalked empty highways." The movie was advertised with the tagline "based on true events," but McLean goes on to add that "Wolf Creek" was not based on any one person or case. Elements may have been borrowed from the case of Australian serial killer Ivan Milat, who tortured and killed hitchhikers, and that of Bradley John Murdoch, whose trial delayed the Northern Territory's release of "Wolf Creek." Murdoch was subsequently convicted for the murder of a British backpacker, even though a body was never found.
The setting of "Wolf Creek" is based on a real place. The real meteorite impact site is spelled "Wolfe Creek," but it's otherwise identical to the isolated "Wolf Creek" of the movie. The Wolfe Creek crater, the second largest impact crater in the world, is situated on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert and the extensive grasslands of the East Kimberley region.