This is unsettling stuff and definitely not for the fainthearted. If you like your drama at the darker end of the scale with a side helping of bloody violence and terror, perhaps WOLF CREEK is for you.
Up until a couple of years ago, pretty much all I knew about Australian TV was Neighbours. Then along came Wentworth, a reimagining of the classic Prisoner Cell Block H (if you haven’t seen it, give it a go, it’s excellent). I recall being surprised by the violence in Wentworth… well, Wolf Creek on FOX kicks it up another notch.
Billabong – an isolated pond left behind when a river changes course, or, as young Ross Thorogood labels it, a waterhole. Each one of the six episodes in this slasher-style series is named after a different place, signalling the fact our protagonist, 19-year-old Eve Thorogood (Lucy Fry), is in for one hell of a journey.
The exploration of one’s self is no new storytelling device but it’s given a neat twist here in the fact that this young lady is pursuing, and being pursued by, a psychotic killer. Evidently Eve has some sort of drug addiction, hence the cure-all family trip to Australia, that she is going to have to face up to before she can seek justice by taking down the maniac who slaughtered her family.
Within the first ten minutes the slasher quality of the films is bluntly (or sharply, considering the killer’s weapon of choice) introduced. This is no slow-building arch of terror, it’s front and centre and pretty disturbing.
For those of you who haven’t seen the two films preceding the series (Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2) don’t worry, neither had I, but after watching episode one I may just go back and revisit them. John Jarratt was ‘persuaded’ to return to the character of killer Mick Taylor; playing him somewhere between Mick Dundee and one of the nutters from Criminal Minds; he’s an outback loner who stalks travellers before kidnapping, torturing and, usually, dismembering them – I did warn you, this isn’t for those with a weak stomach.
Unfortunately for the American family enjoying their camper van trip into the Australian outback, they encounter Taylor and not Dr. Karl Kennedy.
Taken alone as a television show it has enough about the opening episode to set it up as a thriller more so than a horror. Eve and Taylor seem unlikely adversaries, but the makers of Creek seem to be challenging Taylor’s unstoppable killing spree of the movies with the idea that he has met his match in this young woman. Whether it works, remains to be seen, but having a troubled female as the main protagonist is an interesting choice and welcome change; we need to see more women fighting back, and certainly Fry does a great job of making me believe she could actually pose a threat to the crazed old man out to get her – perhaps not physically but certainly psychologically.
This isn’t perfect, the opening is heavily weighted in shock value compared to the more reflective ‘filler’ scenes of elsewhere in the episode. Yet I’m hoping that the exploration of the psychological aspect of what drives this serial killer will take centre stage as the show continues. With the current interest in shows like Making a Murderer, there’s scope here but whether or not I’m in for the full journey – well, I need a few episodes before I decide.
- Aired on FOX UK, August 30 2016 at 21:00.