Just when you thought it was safe to traverse the Outback, filmmaker Greg Mclean returns with another anti-tourism ad that surely has the Australian travel board squirming in their seats. Yup, that bad-to-the-bone Aussie murderer Mick Taylor is back to his old tricks, slicing his way through a new batch of visitors while singing the praises of his majestic country. Taylor is a beacon of hope during this tired time of “found footage” horror and mass zombie hypnosis, returning slasher villains to their rightful place in current genre times. That’s right, you might rather a dingo eat your baby than Mick Taylor get his hands on it, because where Wolf Creek introduced the world to Australia’s answer to Charles Manson, Wolf Creek 2 establishes Taylor as a ferocious horror icon.
If you saw Wolf Creek, you’d know that psychotic pig-killer Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) has a thing for also killing foreigners hitchhiking across his desolate land. From the very moment where we meet a new collection of unharmed vacationers, we know Mick’s old games are about to make a resurgence, and it’s not long before the desert ground starts to collect pools of blood. Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr) attempts to help a girl fleeing from Taylor’s wrath, but instead becomes a target himself after interrupting Mick’s “hunt.” In the middle of nowhere, with a maniacal killer hot on his trail, can Paul find civilization before Mick guts him like a pig – or any of the other unfortunate tourists hanging in his dusty hideaway?
Wolf Creek 2 is a sadistic vacationer’s nightmare, creating a slasher film with serious bite. The horror genre as a whole has been losing an overall grittiness that truly highlights the horrors of a deranged serial killer, but Greg Mclean once again hones that dark, unflinching terror to create horror in its purest form. Innocents stand no chance against Mick Taylor, an antagonist without a single shred of rationality, compromise, or emotional sanity – brilliantly exploited during a scene featuring Mick joyfully driving an 18-wheeler through a pack of street-crossing kangaroos. Wallabies? Sorry – I’m not Ranger Rick.
While some might point to Taylor’s repeated violence against humans as an obvious nod to slasheriffic horror, watching him barrel through these innocent, blissfully unaware creatures – while The Beach Boy’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” plays – provides a moment where your stomach pits, your heart sinks, and you’re psychologically haunted by every move Mick Taylor makes. Grace, beauty, and warmth are crushed underneath pounds of steel – all while Mick spouts one liners and cackles feverishly. It’s true insanity in PETA-bashing form that tonally establishes Wolf Creek 2 as a wickedly horrific thrill ride with no retribution needed.
Mick Taylor’s legacy would be nothing without John Jarratt, who transforms completely when in character. A thick accent may make certain lines mere mumbles to American ears, but when you have a slasher villain referencing Babe within minutes, that’s Jarratt highlighting the joy Mick takes in hacking through body parts like he’s butchering swine. Again, the horror isn’t found simply through Mick’s murders, but his generally perky demeanor while doing so. Mick Taylor doesn’t resort to quick, painless deaths if given the choice, implementing a bevy of torturous tactics while toying with his so-called “playthings.” There – that word right there. “Playthings.” That word alone separates Mick Taylor from your average, run-of-the-mill serial killer content with spilling blood. Or when Mick is dismembering a poor, heroic traveler, jesting about the size of his dead, limp willy – it’s like a silly game. John Jarratt makes Mick Taylor charismatic enough to be memorably “lovable” as far as slasher icons go, which remains the most horrifying fact of all.
Mick Taylor’s return to fame is kickstarted by a graphically ambitious opening act featuring splatter effects too righteous for horror fans to ignore. Mclean puts the pedal to the floor and props a cinder block against it, daring weaker stomachs to abandon ship early and often – or in horror fan terms, Mclean delivers a gory knockout punch. As stated, Taylor carves up victims in plain view, removing realistic insides while flaying, and also causes some heads to explode via a high-powered rifle. Practical effects fans are treated like kings by Wolf Creek 2, a grotesque victory among so many visually stunted competitors.
Credit Ryan Corr with watchability points from a lead victim perspective as well, because without a few mice worth rooting for, what’s the fun in a cat’s chase? The way Taylor toys with Paul becomes so intriguing because of Paul’s return methods of survival, coupling fear with knee-jerk reactions that one might not initially assume. Singing songs and slugging liquor aren’t the first things I’d like to do with Mick Taylor, but as a means of survival, Paul forces himself to remain calm and collected, only exhibiting chaotic panic when running was still an option. Corr plays a near perfect victim, supporting John Jarratt even when tied up, beaten, and essentially left for dead.
Wolf Creek 2 is the electrified jolt of energy that the slasher genre needs right now. It’d been so damn long since I’d seen Wolf Creek that I almost forgot why I loved Mick Taylor so much – but Greg Mclean has kindly just reminded me why. Despite all the terror, killings, and gruesomeness, Wolf Creek still grasps a twisted hilarity that makes for one bloody good thrill ride. At the expense of being thrown away in a looney bin the rest of my life, you’ll have one hell of a good time watching John Jarratt assume his prolific alter ego once again. Mick Taylor is what nightmares are made out of, a slasher legend from down under – let’s make sure it’s not another eight years before he’s purifying the Outback once again?
Wolf Creek 2 is the ferocious kick in the ass that the slasher genre needs right now - bloody, brutal, and lead by a slasher icon in Mick Taylor that rivals the most memorable horror villains produced in the last decade.