Stan’s Wolf Creek
Episode 1: “Billabong”
Directed by Tony Tilse
Written by Peter Gawler
* For a review of Episode 2 “Kutyukutyu”, click here.
Out into the Australian Outback again, as the horrific legacy of Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) never seems to come to an end.
An American family’s travelling through the desolate wild of Outback, preparing to make camp at nearby watering hole. The scenery’s idyllic. Animals everywhere, water for swimming, and a gorgeously warm day. Seems like paradise, no? We start to figure out that the daughter Eve (Lucy Fry) has had problems recently. Seems Eve is an athlete that, somewhere along the line, got addicted to painkillers.
Then we finally see Mick come out of the wilderness. He saves the young son Ross (Cameron Caulfield) from a croc in the water. When they all head back to the family’s camp, Eve and her mother talk a bit about things. But it is definitely clear the daughter isn’t interested in talking much.
Things get vicious after Mick suddenly kills the father. Then the mother. Then even little Ross. Only Eve remains unaware, laying inside their trailer with headphones on. A horrifying chase begins now, once Mick makes his way in to see her, and she rushes off past her mutilated family. This episode picks up INCREDIBLY. Such perfect pacing. Because I’d honestly expected more build up. However, Greg McLean and his trusty band of filmmakers have relied on people coming to this series as fans. So we know how Mick gets down. Might as well get right to it. And the fact he even killed a kid is astonishing. The mini-series gets off to a brutal start without any hesitations.
But Eve, she makes it away from the mad Australian bastard. And she fights to keep herself alive.
Washing up onshore, some men in a boat find Eve. She’s a little worse for the wear, a bullet stuck inside her. But alive. Still, her whole family is dead and now she’s left there in a place completely foreign to her. A properly surreal sort of situation to find oneself in. Talking to the police sin’t easy, either. Everything points to murder-suicide, as the bullet lodged in her is the same calibre of the rifle her father had with him. Nevertheless, Even reveals everything she can remember about the man in the “blue truck” to Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare) leading the investigation.
So naturally what’s being setup is a showdown between Mick and Eve. Just as always, the serial killer will not be brought to justice. He’s been out there killing and killing and nothing’s poised to stop him. Except Eve. Can she do it? Or will this be a futile journey ending with her as just another notch on his belt?
Helps Eve that the police find the bodies disappeared from where the family camped. Now they know there’s more to her ordeal. The cops put her up in a motel for the time being. Meanwhile, Mick is off in his little hideaway drinking and doing what it is he does behind closed doors. What I love about this mini-series is that McLean is allowing us a further look beyond the mask of Mick Taylor, we’re getting more time with the character to start understanding his psyche a little better; we’ll never empathize, but just the fact we see more of his psychology will let us a little deeper into the character.
Further than the showdown between Eve and Mick, there’s also the police who’ve obviously suspected a serial killer prowling the Outback for some time now. Decades. All those tourists gone missing.
Eve believes she sees Mick’s truck, and ends up chasing it down on foot. In a nearby bar she sees someone that at first looks like him, but turns out to be just a guy wearing a similar hat. This lands her up in the hospital again after a fit. Sullivan’s there to greet her as she wakes. Clearly the psychosis is all from a bit of PTSD. Most of all, he worries she’s bent on vigilante justice, and that it won’t solve anything, nor is it guaranteed she’ll be able to do anything about it if she finds him anyway. “Good luck, safe home,” he tells her before leaving. Only her personal responsibility for even being there in Australia makes it hard for Eve to walk away.
Instead of flying home, Lucy sneaks into Hill’s office to try jacking some files. She makes off with them, but he’s not stupid. This sets up quite a cat and mouse chase between both Lucy and Mick, as well as Sullivan and Lucy. Lots of fun dynamics here.
More fun with Mick, too. He comes across a woman doing yoga on the side of the Outback highway. A hilarious little encounter, as Mick asks all about what she’s doing. This fast turns into a terrifying moment with Mick quipping: “Tell you what – I‘ll stretch you out.”
In the episode’s final moments, Lucy has a makeshift memorial for her family. Then she promises them: “I will find him. And I‘ll make him pay.” So while Mick is dangerous and a vicious killer, he’s left unknowing that a victim of his is on the way towards him, full speed, ready for anything. The hunt and the heat are on.
Excited to watch the next episode titled “Kutyukutyu”, which is sure to kick off the big tension and all the suspense. This series in its first episode contains nice writing, staples of the horror genre and what we expect after McLean’s Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2. Plus on top of everything else like the performances from Lucy Fry and the always eerie John Jarratt as Mick, the cinematography from Geoffrey Hall is spectacular, keeping us on the leven of cinema during this mini-series. Look forward to more.