July 10, 2017

TV Review: Wolf Creek - Season One

In 2005 writer/director Greg McLean introduced us to the dangerous world of the Australian Outback. For years there have been tales, and in some cases actual truth, to ruthless killers leaving in the Outback. Serial killers who did not take kindly to the tourist interlopers that they would find on their land. The two films (Wolf Creek in 2005 and Wolf Creek 2 in 2013) introduced us to the world of Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), a killer with wicked sense of humor and a mean temper. The films were quite the success, at least for this viewer, of delivering the horror goods and mixing in some elements of true crime. In 2016, they decided to adapt it to the small screen.

Greg McLean teamed with director Tony Tilse and writers Peter Gawler and Felicity Packard to adapt this dangerous world to the small screen. The first season runs 6 episodes long and will keeping in feeling with the tone of the films, decides to go to in a different direction and does not seem to include the same sort of real world influences. The series takes the story into more of a Death Wish-styled revenge tale rather than a slasher/survival horror. Granted, the two can be seen as pretty closely related, but the difference in approach from movie to television is instantly recognizable.

Now, the Wolf Creek series is not bad, but it isn’t great either. It has an idea of where it wants to go, but it doesn’t quite know how to get there. The result is a short series that has a lot of filler as it figures itself out on the road. It seems to get confused on whether it wants to be revenge thriller or an existential rumination on finding ones purpose and inner strength. It ends up being a mash of these ideas and because of that it loses focus now and again. The strength and weakness can be found in the characters, who appear, sometimes without warning, with the expectation that we will know who they are and accept the relationship that must have developed in between episodes.

The weight of the series is carried on the back of Lucy Fry (The Darkness), and she is more than up to the task. She plays Eve Thorogood, an American tourist on vacation with her family. Her family falls victim to the killer tendencies of Mick Taylor. She, fortunately, survives the ordeal but refuses to go home without having her revenge. This sets off her transformation from petulant, angsty teenager into a self sufficient survivor, learning to be resourceful and how strong she can be on her own when backed against a wall. On the other side, we have John Jarratt reprising his role as Mick Taylor. He is great as this character, but he really doesn’t seem to have a lot to do here and often appears bored. This is a shame, of course, I figured he would have a much stronger presence than he does. His character does fare pretty well, albeit in flashback. We get some insight into his childhood and the impact it has on who he became.

The series follows Eve as she evades her police pursuit and hunts across the Outback for the man in the blue truck who killed her family. She comes across people who help her along the way, but usually it is more bad luck. Pretty much every guy is a would be murder/rapist/gang member who is not going to do her any favors. While this helps push her along her route of self discovery, it does not always help with the plot and just seem like somewhat unnecessary sidetracks. Then there was the random mystic that she spends time with and the seeming time jumps between episodes. It occasionally feels like I missed something as Eve will have new friends or a job that wasn’t even hinted at prior. Then there are moments when it gets on track, like when she investigates other missing persons and goes to those families who have lost hoping to get a bead on the man she is after. It all leads up to the ultimate showdown.

The Wolf Creek series left me with a very middling reaction. There is a lot of elements that I liked mixed with a lot that I didn’t. There are directions taken that would have made a great series. Of course, for this to have reached greatness, they would have had to focus on one of them. We needed more of a laser beam focus rather than the shotgun approach that seems to have been employed. So, I can recommend this with reservations.

Mildly Recommended.

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