Wolf Creek: 2-Disc Special Edition (2005)

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Released 2-Mar-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers And Cast
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes
Interviews-Cast-Meet Mick Taylor: An Interview With John Jarratt
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 94:13
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:06)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Greg McLean
Studio
Distributor
Darc Light
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Greg McLean
Peter Alchin
John Jarratt
Cassandra Magrath
Andy McPhee
Kestie Morassi
Guy Petersen
Nathan Phillips
Gordon Poole
Jenny Starwall
Aaron Sterns
Greg McLean
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Frank Tetaz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during opening and closing credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Ever felt like taking a trip across Australia's vast outback with a couple of mates in an old bomb? Think of the spectacular scenery and sunsets and the small country towns you could see, and pubs and roadhouses packed with friendly locals that you could meet on the way? If you've planned to do a trip like this, it's probably best that you don't watch Wolf Creek, except perhaps as a warning...

    There's very little I can write about the story itself without giving away key plot developments. It's basically about Ben Mitchell (played by Nathan Phillips), a guy from Sydney who wants to return home after an extended period tripping around north-west Western Australia. His plan is to drive across the country with two English tourists, Liz and Kristy, played by Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi respectively.

    This film recounts their 'true' story of the sinister events in which they became unwilling participants during what turned out, for them, to be a nightmare trip across the outback.

    John Jarratt (easily the most familiar face in this film), plays his part wonderfully well, with plenty of subtle, and over-the-top characterisations of Mick Taylor. I felt the two actresses were a little underdone on the acting side, especially Kestie Morassi, who I felt was not fully believable in her role. Nathan Phillips came across quite well as the bloke from the city, trying to be 'himself' with the girls, yet recognising a budding romance and trying to impress the girls in that laid-back Aussie way. Unfortunately he doesn't have much of a role in the latter half of the film, which focuses primarily on the two girls and their outback tormentor.

    Wolf Creek marks an impressive big-screen directorial debut for Greg McLean, an Aussie with a background in stage theatre. He also wrote the story. Thankfully McLean hasn't used many obvious directorial clichés, giving the film a reasonably original feel to it. He also paces everything just nicely, often lulling the viewer into complacency, and then casting seeds of doubt and unease into their mind, before letting them relax a little. He repeats this 'cycle' a couple of times, unsettling the viewers ever more increasingly, before unleashing unrelenting mayhem and violence.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film was originally shot on high-definition digital video, and this helps provide a nearly immaculate transfer to DVD.

    The transfer presents the movie in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which I believe is its original ratio, although the IMDB states that the ratio was 1.78:1. It seems odd to me that a theatrical release would be filmed using the 1.78:1 ratio. Regardless, the transfer on this DVD is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is good throughout, providing the viewer with a crisp picture at all times. Black level and shadow detail are thankfully excellent, as much of this film takes place in the dark. A good example of the shadow detail is the scene at 42:13.

    The director and cinematographer have used a wonderful, rich colour palette to convey the bright sun-baked desert, as well as the rainy and muddy scenes later. The daytime scenes have a slight blue tint to them, possibly as a result of the digital enhancement to provide a sunwashed look.

    There was a little visible film 'grain' in the low light scenes, such as 56:40, though I suspect this was inherent in the original, rather than any fault of the DVD transfer.

    There was no aliasing at all, even in scenes featuring plenty of vertical lines such as corrugated iron walls.

    Surprisingly there are no subtitles at all, not even for the Hard of Hearing.

    The layer change point occurs at 57:06 and resulted in a 1-second pause on my player. Curiously this also resulted in my Dolby decoder losing the audio signal, requiring me to switch away from DVD input and then return to it to regain the audio signal.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The primary audio track provided is English Dolby Digital 5.1, and is very well done. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    The dialogue is clear at all times, even when the actors were shouting or screaming.

    The musical score is by François Tétaz. It's reasonably effective and suits the onscreen action, without being particularly memorable. It's not the 'typical' horror movie score in that it deliberately avoids telegraphing events that are about to happen!

    Great use is made of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundfield. There are plenty of directional sound effects and music pumped through the rear speakers. I found the sounds of thunder at 26:30 particularly effectively mixed.

    The subwoofer, fed by its 0.1 LFE signal, has much to do, supporting the lower end frequencies of gunshots and engine noise amongst other sounds to help make the viewer jump in their seats.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras, though of good quality, are not as plentiful as they should be given that this is a 2-disc release. For example, it would have been nice to have the original trailer/s included.

Menu Audio

    The main menu features animated scenes from the film, tinted heavily in yellow, with eerie extracts from the music score. This is effective, and helps put the viewer into the right frame of mind for the film that lies ahead.

Dolby Digital Trailer - Egypt

    Haven't seen one of these for a while. Nice to give a pre-feature workout to your 5.1 surround system.

Audio Commentary

    An almost non-stop commentary on the film provided by Greg McLean, the director and writer, Matt Hearn, executive producer, and the two actresses Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi.

    They provide plenty of background information, and seem to enjoy doing so. There is much info on locations, tricks used, time and budget constraints and the improvisations done by cast and crew.

Featurette - Making Of (runtime 49:43)

    A detailed documentary on the making of Wolf Creek, featuring snippets of interviews with key cast and crew members, interspersed with scenes from the film.

    Some of those interviewed include Greg McLean, Matt Hearn, Will Gibson (director of photography), John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips and Kestie Morassi.

    There's lots of the usual 'great to work with this cast/crew', 'greatest director/producer/cast that I've worked with', but thankfully there is also plenty of useful background about the filmmaking process, especially in a relatively low-budget and severely time-constrained production such as this. Problems with the weather and locations just had to be worked into the script to avoid costly delays.

    There is some 'talking up' of the terror of the film, and the psychologically 'gruelling' aspects for the lead actors and crew.

    Apart from the back-slapping, this is an excellent, in-depth look at many aspects, pre- and post-production, of making this film.

    This featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Deleted Scenes

    There are 3 separate deleted scenes included. These were obviously cut late in the process, as they are well finished both visually and audio wise. Nice to have, but would have been even better with optional director's comments about the scenes and why they were cut, though this is covered to some extent in the commentary track on the feature.

    Nathan at Store (runtime 0:36)

    Kestie in bed with Nathan (1:39)

    Cass down the well (3:42)

    These can be played individually, or using the 'play all' function on the menu.

Interviews - Cast - Meet Mick Taylor: An Interview With John Jarratt (runtime 20:55)

    A one way interview (you don't see or hear the interviewer) with John Jarratt who plays Mick Taylor. It gives an in-depth look at how an actor prepares and executes a difficult role. For example, to give him some insight into a killer's mind, Jarratt read Ivan Milat's autobiography as preparation for this role!

    This interview is interesting, though perhaps just a little too long, and filled with his praise for the director/writer. It would have been nice to see interviews with some of the other cast to see how they prepared for their roles.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 release appears to be a single-disc release, with a Spanish soundtrack and subtitles being the only extras not present on the R4 release. However, the R1 release appears to miss out on the interview with John Jarratt.

    Unless you have to have the Spanish soundtrack, I can't imagine any reason you would buy the R1 version instead of the 2-disc R4 release.

Summary

    The film is well directed, and well paced. The first half lulls the viewer into that dreamy, sleepy sense of travelling the wide open spaces of the outback, thinking of more days of the same to come. However, the menace begins to take hold of you first when they encounter some not-so-friendly locals in a roadhouse, and then again when the rainy night falls on the trio in their broken-down car... Even then, when the actual turn of events takes place, it takes the viewer quite by surprise. Beautifully done!

    Many reviews of the film, and some people I spoke to, found Wolf Creek 'deeply disturbing', some scenes even giving  them nightmares. I didn't find it affected me in that way, but that might be more a comment on my psyche than any fault of the film. It's just a good slasher/horror film, packed with suspense, that doesn't try to delve too deeply into motives or character development. A fairly uncomplicated story, memorable mainly for the violence and the effective characterisation of the perpetrator of the violence.

    A great one to watch in the dark, but like many modern suspense/horror films, the effect is definitely more pronounced if you can watch it in the dark with a full surround sound system.

    The video and audio transfer are immaculate, as you would expect for a very recent digitally-filmed release. As this is a dual disc release, the extras are plentiful, and generally add plenty to the enjoyment of the film and the understanding of its production.

    Wolf Creek might do for outback tourism what Jaws did for swimming at midnight with sharks... As someone famously said, this film puts a whole new meaning on "Australia, where the bloody hell are you?"!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

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Comments (Add)
About time a Review came up for this fantastic movie!!! - Gizmo35 (The Biography ain't much to look at.)
OAR - Gizmo35 (The Biography ain't much to look at.) REPLY POSTED
puppy lakes... not wolf creek. -
Re: puppy lakes... not wolf creek. - Sean. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Minority here too, apparently - Shane C (read my bio, you will)
quite well done -
Ivan's "autobiography"?! -
4 Disc Edition -
re 4-disc "Wolf Creek" - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
4 disc edition extra Special Features - Steveo
4th Disc - Gizmo35 (The Biography ain't much to look at.)
This movie was truly frightening -
Unrated version -