There is a subset of horror movies that actively celebrate the antagonist of the film. These films lay forward the most basic roster of victims, with little or no time spent developing their characterization, as simple cinematic fodder to display the sadistic skills of the killer of the film. These films revel in the creative execution of overly complicated murders whilst the killer dabbles in some terrible pun work. We know these movies when we see them, and Wolf Creek 2 is one of these movies.
With all of the major players from the first Wolf Creek, including the writer and director, Greg Mclean and John Jarratt who reprises his role as Mick Taylor, our murderer of choice for this particular franchise, the most shocking thing about Wolf Creek is how different it feels from its predecessor. As mentioned above, Mick Taylor feels larger in this film. Not larger in stature or girth, larger in personality. Wolf Creek 2 is the Mick Taylor show and the filmmakers make sure the audience knows this from the opening shots of the film. This approach, though, runs the risk of creating a two-dimensional, live-action version of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. With no character depth, the chase becomes an exercise. With no personal investment in the outcome of the hunt, that exercise becomes tedious.
In Wolf Creek 2, anything sinister is replaced by puns, any tension is replaced by gags. One is reminded of the (de)evolution of Freddy Kreuger. Gone is the fear of the killer, replaced instead by a strange affinity for him. You’re not afraid of him, you kind of want to party with him. In addition to the puns and jokes of our sociopathic protagonist, and I do argue that Mick Taylor is portrayed as the protagonist here, the lack of development given to every other character in the film reduces any other chance for fear or tension to near zero. Mick is chasing nonessential meat puppets while he works on his comic material. That is the synopsis.
That criticism in mind, if this is the kind of movie an audience member enjoys then Wolf Creek 2 will be a lot of fun for them. The filmmaker’s vision is well crafted, well shot, and well executed. It is pretty clear the intention was not to create horror or tension. It was meant to create an exaggerated world of ultra-violence and nervous laughter. So to say that Wolf Creek 2 is “a bad movie” isn’t really fair. It is completely what the filmmakers intended to create and they create it with skill.
The question, then, is simply what kind of viewer are you? Do you need backstory and well-rounded victims and a mysterious, stone-faced killer? Or do you want Wile E. Coyote, but with big knives? While neither preference is inherently right or wrong, it is an important measuring point to properly decide if the objective eye of the viewer is going to be bored, disgusted, or elated.
Despite your cinematic preferences, though, it may just be best to simply watch Wolf Creek 2 as if it were a twisted Australian tourism video. “You can visit, but we don’t have to like it. Oh and you’ll probably die.”