[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B000UYBOZQ][/pullquote] A common question among film fans is ˜what makes a film, a horror rather than a thriller.’ The common response includes references to the occult or supernatural, or something about an unstoppable villain with super-human strength. While this themes are present in a lot of horror films, the true answer is in the name. It must show the audience horror. Whether that’s a supernatural or mystical way, the goal of a horror film must be to scare and evoke fear and terror as its main goal. It is this mentality that removes films like Let the Right One In from the genre, while including films like Jaws. Just because a film lacks the strange or unexplained does not make it a thriller. With that in mind, one of the most chilling horror films in recent years is Wolf Creek.
Wolf Creek sees three hikers in their twenties set out to explore Wolf Creek National Park on a hiking expedition. They visit the site of an infamous supposed crashed UFO, however when they return to their car it won’t start. They are rescued by local ˜bushman’ Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) who takes them back to his shack in the middle of the outback to call for help.
What Wolf Creek is able to achieve on a modest budget with an almost unknown cast is relentless levels of tension and terror. It’s an incredible achievement from director Greg McLean who never lets up as the plot goes rocketing toward its shocking and disturbing final third. He cleverly plays with the audiences expectations and then starts throwing out twists quicker than M. Night Shyamalan.
Jarrett, whose Taylor is as convincing and believable as any character in a horror film cleverly plays up to his ˜cheerful journeyman Australian’ image from the start of Wolf Creek and as the plot develops his true intentions slowly bleed through, making him one of the most terrifying villains in many years. There’s even a wonderful reference to Crocodile Dundee and his famous this is a knife’ quote.
At no point in the films modest running length are you bored or distracted, with the actors doing a fine job in creating a level of realism that makes the horror even more engrossing. There is no pretense of style or even worse stylishness in Wolf Creek, which is one of the flaws of the Saw franchise that started the year previous.