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Reviewed in our Movie Reviews section
The original was a low-budget success based on suspense. Now, eight years later, we get a bigger film with more action sequences. It seems to be a series of homages to other, more original films. At this rate the third one in the series will be in 3-D.
The villain, Mick Taylor (John Jarratt - Picnic at Hanging Rock ), is driving down the highway in the desert of Western Australia. He gets pulled over by a couple of police patrolmen who seem to have seen too many Mad Max movies.
The main body of the film reverts to a standard stalk-and-slash. We meet a couple of German backpackers - The Hitcher named Rutger, and his flat-chested girlfriend. One thing leads on to another, we get a car chase scene reminiscent of Road Kill and a suspenseful encounter that seems borrowed from Texas Chainsaw Massacre .
The climax involves torture porn, like in Saw . On the bright side it is quite educational about Australian history, so it is still worth watching.
This film may evoke memories of so many other films, but there is one minor problem with this. The protagonists spend an awful lot of time standing around when they should be running away. They are completely genre-blind, while the audience is genre-savvy.
Eve Thorogood ( Lucy Fry ) and her family are on a camping trip in the Australian outback. Her parents are police officers from America, while she is a teenager attempting to overcome a substance addiction problem. They stop to take a swim in a watering-hole filled with enormous salt-water crocodiles. Things take a turn for the worse when they are befriended by Mick Taylor (John Jarratt - Picnic at Hanging Rock ).
Our heroine's case is handled by friendly police detective Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare - Spartacus ). Of course, he does not believe a word of her crazy story about an Outback serial-killer. As a result she decides to take the law into her own hands. This means the show is basically a police procedural of sorts, which is far more palatable to the Australian audience than a slasher story would be.
Eve Thorogood ( Lucy Fry ) goes to one of the killer's previous sites, in the hope he will return to the scene of the crime.
Friendly police detective Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare - Spartacus ) comes looking for our heroine. He is hundreds of miles out of his jurisdiction, but it seems he will be criss-crossing the country for the rest of the show.
Eve has to cope with a lot of attention from Australian men. She meets a lonely idiot at a fuel station who wants to give her some good Aussie loving. Later, she ends up involved with a biker gang.
Eve Thorogood ( Lucy Fry ) still has to deal with repercussions from the previous episode. The lonely idiot from the fuel station still wants to give her some good Aussie loving. Worse, the biker gang she robbed are also on her tail.
Friendly police detective Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare - Spartacus ) is back home, but he decides to look into some cold cases. He also discovers a warm one, as Mick Taylor (John Jarratt - Picnic at Hanging Rock ) leaves a trail. Yes, Mick is aware that Eve is onto him and has set a trap for her.
Eve encounters a local Prison transport vehicle. One of the guards has epileptic seizures, and for some reason the others made him the driver. One of the convicts wants to take revenge on a former colleague who betrayed him, and Eve questions the validity of revenge as a motive.
The characters keep missing each other at the local watering-hole, a cafe run by Doreen from Wentworth (the reboot of Prisoner: Cell Block H). This is just another indicator of how deeply this is stuck in the Australian Police Procedural genre, rather than being a classic American slasher-style suspense story. Probably the biggest giveaway is the fact that the protagonist is pro-active rather than reactive.
Eve Thorogood ( Lucy Fry ) takes the bait and goes to Opalville. If Mick Taylor's trap worked then the story would be over at the midpoint, so obviously she gets lucky. Then she investigates a local missing persons case.
In the previous episode, all the white heterosexual men were dangerous violent thugs but the Aboriginal character was helpful. What are the chances things will be different this week?
Friendly police detective Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare - Spartacus ) tries to sort things out with his woman. She complains that it is all his fault, because he is never home. Fair enough, since he spends all day making thousand-mile round-trips outside of his jurisdiction to investigate an unofficial case.
The escaped convict from two weeks ago is still wandering in the desert. He looks pretty good for a man without food and water, but his hand is badly infected and he will need to auto-amputate. By unbelievable coincidence, he winds up at the same outback town as the other characters.
Eve Thorogood ( Lucy Fry ) sets a trap for Mick Taylor (John Jarratt - Picnic at Hanging Rock ). She took a job as a lingerie-wearing waitress in a truckstop cafe. One of Mick's previous survivors is a regular there. However, it turns out she has no actual plan as to what to do when she catches him!
Friendly police detective Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare - Spartacus ) has patched things up with his wife. They even host a barbecue for their friends together. However, he is still obsessed with Eve and her case so he refuses to just let local law enforcement take over. In fact, he does not even bother to inform them when he flies into their jurisdiction.
The long-established difference between a Final Girl and a Damsel in Distress, as established in classic 1980 horror/slasher The Shining , is that the Final Girl is her own saviour and does not rely on a cop to rescue her. Since Mick is an established cop-killer, how many innocent bystanders (including cops) will he take out before he gets to her? Also, how long will we have to wait for the biker-gang storyline to get tied up?
Eve Thorogood ( Lucy Fry ) follows the clues that Mick Taylor (John Jarratt - Picnic at Hanging Rock ) left for her. She finds his childhood scrapbook, which contains newspaper cuttings of a tragedy from his childhood. This leads on to flashbacks into his past, a superfluous origin story that adds nothing to the character.
Finally, Mick himself takes centre stage for the big climactic confrontation. He does what he is best at, mind-games and torture porn. It is all toned down a bit for the television. The question is not can our heroine survive, but rather - can she get evidence to the cops of what Mick has done? After all, she is actually implicated in many of his kills!
There is also a post-credits sequence which (like most of this show) is style over substance. However, it leads on to the next chapter in the story.
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Mick starts by getting himself a new hunting rifle. He also gets a piece of info about his old hunting ground. The cops have finally deduced that some mad bastard is killing tourists in the Wolf Creek region. Well, they would have caught him already if the Final Girl from Season one had not burned all the evidence. Anyway, Mick has to start covering his tracks now.
The main storyline concerns a group of tourists on a coach trip across the outback. We get some good helicopter shots, although these are a lot more common now that camera drones are available.
The tourists include a few teenagers, and because this was made in Australia they actually LOOK like teenagers. The really interesting characters are the adults. One man is a prison psychologist who specialises in the criminal mindset. A woman is a geneticist, who believes criminality is nature rather than nurture. And the token black guy is a war veteran.
Towards the end of the episode, Mick encounters the group. Rather than kill them one at a time, he plans to take them off and have them all to himself.
Mick takes the tour bus to a big hill in South Australia that is reminiscent of (Picnic at) Hanging Rock . While they go for a stroll, he racks up another victim or two. Yes, the bits with the serial killer are far more interesting than the bits with his victims. And if we do not care about the victims, the story becomes just another stalk-and-slash effort.
The tourists wake up in the middle of the outback. Normally this is where the suspense would start. They wonder where Mick has gone, and why the coach's battery and satellite phone are missing. They realise that they have slept through an entire day. And they think that the food has started to go off because there is a terrible stench of rotting meat coming from the trailer.
The elderly German couple insist on taking the severely burned girl with them. Of course, they have no water or medical supplies.
The creepy straight white man goes back to the coach. Unfortunately Mick chooses that moment to turn up. Will the Final Girl bother to save him?
The gay East Asian gets saved by a couple of Aboriginal cow-herders. Like all people of colour in this kind of thing, they seem to have a mystical connection with the land and access to information that has not been otherwise made available to the tourists.
Elsewhere, the elderly German couple are slowing everyone else down. Not only do they need medication, the woman gets bitten by a snake.
The survivors make it to safety, or so they think. They find an inhabited building in the middle of the desert. The electrical generator is still working, and the floodlights are on.
Unfortunately the inhabitants are creepy as heck. There is a little boy on a tricycle, like in The Shining . And he wears a gasmask, like a particularly creepy episode of Dr Who .
The creepy straight white man and the Final Girl have Mick's truck. Instead of doing the smart thing, and going to the Police to get help, the Final Girl does the stupidly heroic thing and goes looking for Mick's lair. Yes, somehow she assumes she can do things without any expert help.
Finally the creepy man gives us his backstory. Yes, he is polite and English so he is set up with all the subtlety of Dr Smith in Lost In Space . The truth is that, like the anti-social cavalier in Dungeons and Dragons (1981) , he is merely someone who values self-preservation.
The final credits have no music, merely the sound of vultures circling a dying victim in the desert. But keep watching until the end, because there is an after-credits sequence.