Down under and dirty

You call that a horror film? This is a horror film.

THIS CAn’t BE GOOD <br>A backpacker seeking adventure in the Australian outback, instead finds herself trying to dodge a demented killer in Wolf Creek<i>.</i>

A backpacker seeking adventure in the Australian outback, instead finds herself trying to dodge a demented killer in Wolf Creek.

Wolf Creek
Directed by Greg McLean. Rated R.
Rated 4.0

You gotta love the primal instincts of the Aussies. These are the folks who like to kick back with a can of beer the size of 10W-40 to watch their version of professional football players power out onto the field in nothing more than shorts, jerseys and cleats. Bugger a helmet. Bang, bang, bang … skulls would crack if they weren’t such a thick-skulled lot. Take the Oakland Raiders and strip away protective gear that outgears a U.S. soldier in Fallujah, and throw them up against an Aussie football team and it’d be like feeding a den of Cub Scouts into a wood chipper. The exit end of that wood chipper would bleed Technicolor crimson (with a touch of pink), not black and silver. Pansies.

The Aussie approach to film is pretty much comparable, and in that regard Wolf Creek doesn’t disappoint. Based in part on a notorious Outback true crime (some deranged knob preyed on a series of backpackers in the ‘80s), this Down Under horror show is content to bypass the body-count ethos and set up only a pair of British birds and an Aussie chunderhead as mayhem bait. Fueled by copious amounts of booze and pot, these naifs decide to visit a remote park for a look-see. On a hippie trail, head full of zombie they encounter a land-locked version of Captain Quint, who holds an animosity toward not sharks, but tourists, and suddenly we have a trio of unhappy campers. Very, very unhappy campers.

Unfair dinkum. You better run, you better take cover.

Wolf Creek idles away half of its running time laying out character development (also known as filler), but when things get nasty director Greg McLean gets, well, truly nasty.

There are damned few “horror” films that actually live up to that sobriquet (as in, “Why the hell am still I watching this?"), but this sick puppy delivers in spades on that challenge, in a way that the feeble-minded American PG-13 driven horror template has no desire to explore anymore. Think Texas Chainsaw Massacre with better acting and effects. Think what deserves an R-rating and wonder how these guys got away with it. Rethink that planned vacation to Sydney (that’s the capital of Australia, y’know?*). And think about why your date is laughing at very inopportune times during the course of this.

Best horror film of the year … and it’s not American. We’ve become such a bunch of candy-asses.

*In-joke; don’t waste your time correcting me.