4 out of 5
Created by: Greg McLean
covers season 1
Appreciably brutal, and if not for one completely unnecessary filler episode – in a 6 episode season, mind you, so it’s hard to ignore – a powerful extension of a character / “franchise” of which I wasn’t convinced the former could carry the latter.
And maybe he does or doesn’t, but by leashing serial killer Mick (John Jarratt) to prey-turned-predator Eve (Lucy Fry), we get a precious dynamic that narrows our focus versus the body count / final girl standard format of slashers. Not that Wolf Creek, the show, isn’t in itself still a template, with Mick and Eve doing a cat and mouse thing and Eve’s badass transformation via, essentially, PTSD; however, it seems that stretching this formula out longer than 90 minutes actually gives us room to not just be freaked by Mick’s relentlessness – a flesh and blood version of the Michael Myers evil embodiment type – but also empathy with Eve’s general plight, bounding back and forth between the uncertainty of what’s she’s doing and the bloodthirst of revenge. While we only get like 15 seconds with her fam before they’re viciously offed by Mick (for no reason, as per his m.o.) and the show uses some serious shorthand to establish her competence (her parents were cops and so she’s got them detectin’ skills; she’s a marathon runner and so she’s got them athletics), the tunnel-vision intelligence she applies while trying to track down Mick is never a leap too far from believable, and actress Fry burns with a very recognizable conviction. In short: she sells this quest, and while Mick is a cartoon villain, that’s an essential element that Jarratt sells equally well: we fucking hate this guy, and his dead-inside stare.
While the show jumps head first into “everyone is evil” territory, with all the men Eve meets while on the run (after stealing police files on Mick-themed disappearances to fuel her pursuit) inevitably gross-balls who try to rape her, it somewhat subversively turns a corner with one of these gross-balls admitting to wanting to start a family, and then later male pursuers not having direct sexual goals… and all find their way to harm, setting the stage for desensitizing Eve to the violence she intends to commit upon Mick. It might not have been a purposeful evolution, but it ends up effectively climbing up to the devastating confrontations stacked up in the final couple episodes.
And along the way: no one is frikkin’ safe, because Mick kills with but a blink. That is the brutal aspect. It’s not so much gore – although the show certainly doesn’t shy away from some quality visuals – as that continual feeling of unease, and the possibility that McLean and his directors / writers may be endearing Eve to us just to have her die. Time will tell, although we know there’s a season two, so Mick likely lives on…
The production on the show, in general, is also key: this is the freakin’ Outback, man, felt in every sweaty face and dirt-dusted outfit and desolate town Eve sees / comes across. The actress’ “American” accent may slip sometimes, but that’s fine; it’s more important that we feel just as emotionally stranded in the desert and she does, and the settings and scene dressing accomplish that to the absolute.
The bottle episode (episode 4, I believe) is ridiculous. It’s a red herring during the hunt, and I get how it further paralleled Eve’s situation / encouraged her “evolution”, but only by repeating elements found in other episodes, and only via a distractingly dumb side story. Thankfully, the other five episodes are so gripping it’s easily forgotten.