Wolf Creek Season 2 review: Damned tourists
Despite a few flaws, Mick Taylor's second small screen outing stands as a solid follow up to the ripping first one.
Mick Taylor, the outback psycho with the piggish chortle that's sure to echo in your future nightmares, is on the road again. And why not, mate? After two popular films, the Wolf Creek series successfully transitioned from cinema to Stan in 2016, thanks to a spin-off tale centring on a young American college student out for revenge. Sadly, and worryingly, there's no sign of "survivor" Eve Thorogood in this second season. Mick (John Jarratt) has simply shrugged off his wounds and set sights on bigger game – a tourist busload of thirteen very unlucky bastards.
If mixed media isn't your bag, and everything you know of Mick is only what's been shown on screens, Wolf Creek Season 2 will offer you further hints at what's motivating this creature of pure malevolence. There are juicy pieces of meat to devour right from the get-go. While upgrading his head-popper at a gun store in the middle of nowhere, a more-sociable-than-usual Mick chews the fat with the local owner. The old coot praises his old man, Taylor Snr, as a harsh and formidable bugger – the subtext being that he was also an abusive alcoholic who treated his son like dirt.
Mick's shit-eating grin of a poker face holds during that reminisce, but his interest piques when talk turns to a police investigator on the trail of some local mass murderer. Mick's antics are clearly making the noose tighten. But, rather than lay low, old mate wants to draw the cops in. Perhaps that's due to the pig hunter in him. Maybe his battle with Eve gave him a taste for challenge. Whatever the case, Mick decides to head south and go big on a 13-for-1 bargain.
At a roadhouse servo outside of Adelaide, we bear witness to a fateful encounter with Davo, the happy-go-lucky tour guide (Ben Oxenbould). In true Taylor fashion, a conversation is struck up that's sprinkled with all manner of racist and homophobic remarks about the coach's diverse clientele, and Davo diplomatically retreats from it. However, it seems he's not tactful enough, as Mick marks the group as prey and starts to shadow them as they head further North, off into Mad Max country.
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Though this is only a six-parter series, expect the first few episodes to be a bit of a slow-burn. That said, even at its low points Season 2 is just as beautifully filmed as its predecessor, showcasing the sort of cinematography typically reserved for the big screen. Returning showrunner Greg McLean takes his time introducing the sacrificial lambs, too, a mismatched group of mostly international touros who awkwardly form polite friendships-of-convenience with one another.
At the kid's table, we have a small cluster of disinterested teens who divide their time between lamenting their lack of phone coverage, bragging about their Internet fame, and trying to navigate a series of awkward love triangles. The adults include a well-on-the-spectrum Kiwi who loves the bus, an aged German couple who specialise in poor decisions, two gay couples (though the female pair seem to be stalled in the unrequited love phase), an American marriage on the rocks, a divorcee army vet, and a mysterious Brit who, oddly, is a serial killers aficionado.
Basically, you get a nice even ratio of annoying and/or useless-in-the-outback suburbanites versus natural survivors and/or selfish jerks. When the killing does begin in earnest, Mick picks his early favourites in a fairly predictable pattern and, when time allows, his creative torture methods require a strong stomach. Mind you, as the slaughter continued, I was delighted to find that my victim radar wasn't as precise as it usually is. Mick isn't as hung up on intimacy as I thought. Cobber's not above a bit of indiscriminate multi-killing from afar.
As the body count mounts, fear and confusion start to take their toll on the shrinking band of survivors. Consensus on the next course of action gets frequently derailed by the head-in-the-sand members of the group, resulting in a rift forming between the walking/talking liabilities and those with leveller heads. Honestly, it's great and well-acted drama that's impossible to put down. And the questions this show raises about triage, basic human decency, or what the individual ought reasonably do to survive, started a few heated debates in my own home. Bottom line: I now know to never go camping with my wife. She'll ditch me at the first snake bite and/or sign of trouble. I won't even be left with any toilet paper. Good to know.
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