PicturePresented in 1.85:1 using the MPEG-2 codec Wolf Creek is at times a visually pleasing piece of work. Shot on 1920x1080 HD Video, less resolution that normal film but exactly what the new HD formats require the results a glorious sequence of colours and clarity. Like the feature itself the video quality comes in two parts.
At the start of Wolf Creek there are beautiful golden hues on offer on the beaches of some Australian resort, the colours presented during the parties which they attend and the wandering around the streets are wonderful. Rich, deep and well saturated without being overblown. Primaries are strong with the blues of the ocean, small pool and expansive sky coming across well. Facial tones, of which there are a few, are spot on with each pore and blemish clearly on show. Whilst on the road the captures of the deserted Australian landscape are crisp and fully detailed, stretching back into the distance. Outcroppings of bush, sand, stone and the mountainous landscapes all show that HD video needn't be the poorer cousin of film.
The second act is essentially set in darkness. Noise or artefacts are never apparent although there is some post added grain. There's a good sense of depth and shadow to be seen, look around the camp whilst Mick and the travellers share stories; the abandoned belongings are easily identified. Blacks are deep and velvet like. The pitch black landscape, its pitfalls, humps and surfaces, murky but still defined.
Certainly Wolf Creek has more than credible quality, being new on HD video there's no marks, dirt or other blemishes with wonderful early outdoor scenes and later spooky rich blacks. I didn't think though that it has the same 'pop' or wow factor that some more recent realeases have exhibited.
SoundThere's only 2 movie tracks really, a DD 2.0 affair and the full blown 5.1. Unusually the 2.0 track is the default and you'll have to select the 5.1 to take advantage of the full surround experience. In saying that though there's not much coming from those surrounds. A comparison between the 2.0 and the 5.1 really shows that Wolf Creek is a frontal piece of work. The 5.1 offers some ambiance in terms of birds, the odd car and the night time insects in the later stage of the feature, but essentially it's all happening up front.
Better use of the surrounds could have offered a more immersive experience, especially towards the end, and I feel that the technology wasn't really exploited.
The dialogue is crisp and well detailed; the high-pitched tones of the screams and the high velocity bullets later on pierce the air. Low tones are infrequent this being predominantly mid and high but occasionally the LFE channel will kick in especially during a pool party in the first act.
The score by Frank Tetaz comes across particularly well, again always coming from the frontal array. It reflects the nature of the action on screen at the time, upbeat at the start, melancholy towards the end.
Greg McLean is joined by Matt Hearn, Cassandra Magrath and Kirsty Morassi to discuss the various scenes, settings and general production of Wolf Creek. It's neither here nor there really as a commentary, never revealing too much about the production techniques or the film's construction as a whole. McLean goes onto discuss the limitations due to budget and the inclement weather but it never really gets into any good detailed stuff for me, and most of the information provided is better handled by the later documentary. It seems as though there is are still a number of deleted scenes available. My hope is that an updated release doesn't include them!
- The Making of Wolf Creek. - 0:49:43
This is where you'll find the most interesting information. It covers most of the production in a logical structured way, from script and plot concepts through casting, cinematography, budget and post production digital manipulation. Many of the cast and crew are there behind the scenes, most having their say on camera, and you can't fault the enthusiasm they all show for this director and this project.
- Deleted Scenes. - 00:05:58
Three deleted scenes in total which can be played independently or as a batch. A couple are from the first act with Ben wandering into a shop to buy a road map, one of Kirsty waking up beside a sleeping Ben. The final one is a later scene where Liz finds a revolver which she tries to load only to fall into a pit containing the rotting corpses of previous victims. All three don't really add anything to the mix and deserve their place on the cutting room floor.
- Meet Mick Taylor, an Interview with John Jarratt. - 00:20:55
This really comes up as the second most interesting extra on this disc. There's no doubt about it that if you're going to take anything from this film itself it would be the cold, clinical portrayal of madman Mick. Jarratt discusses how he spent pre filming getting into the role and how he eventually translated that onto screen. An enjoyable enough interview for someone who seems to be going down in film history, like Robert Englund before him, for the role he has created.
- Teaser Trailer. - 00:01:01
As the name suggests.
- Cry Wolf: A Sneak Preview. - 00:03:42
A short clip from an upcoming release showing students discussing an imaginary serial killer, or are they?
So not a great package either really; the commentary is by the numbers and it feels like it's been put on the disc just because it can be. For a film rapidly achieving cult status you would have thought that the people concerned would have made more of an effort here but that seems not to be the case.
The making of featurette and the interview are where most fans should be spending their time. Here at least you get some insight into what made this film, and those responsible for its deliverance, tick.
VerdictI enjoy horror, I enjoy suspense and I enjoy a few scares - apart from a small amount of suspense in the second act I felt cheated a little as I never really got any of what I expected or wanted. What I did get, after seeing the depths to which Mick descends in his treatment of his captors, was a brutal assault on my own humanity and I can honestly say that I didn't really enjoy it.
But you say, this is what the director wanted all the time. Perhaps, but if the documentary is anything to go by then he wanted to scare first and foremost; scare and shock in my book are two different things. I've tried to veer away from the whole 'torture porn' moniker because I've seen other films, banned 'video nasties' from the early eighties for instance, present similar concepts and they've certainly not been labelled as such. The ritual brutality and humiliation here though I just found a little too much to bear, it's been done before but in those instances it was new and fresh and it was all the better for it.
I'll not be returning to Wolf Creek, that's a path I have travelled down and hope not to venture upon is rocky road again. I can see fans of the genre really enjoying it though and spreading the word that Greg McLean is the new Tobe Hooper. Well with his next production, a large alligator trying to eat hapless tourists, then there are obvious similarities; but only on a subject level not an artistic one. Ultimately decent video quality and audio that's not great, but not too shabby either, can't really elevate the brutality of Wolf Creek from out of the billabong.
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