Wolf Creek

Three backpackers are on a car journey from Perth to Cairns when they decide to make a detour to Wolf Creek. This place boasts the site of a meteor crash, which they decide to explore. However, when they return from their sightseeing, the discover their car won’t work. After a few fruitless hours trying to fix it, along comes Mick (John Jarrett), who is only too eager to help them and offers to take them back to his camp in order to fix it. What follows is a terrifying ordeal that the 3 people have never experienced, and how they try to escape the horror they’ve found themselves in.

‘Wolf Creek’ has already earned a reputation for being one of the scariest films in recent years, with people screaming their way out of the cinemas. It has already built up a cult following after film festival showings, which is pretty good for a low budget Australian film. The plot takes its time getting to know the three youngsters and the audience is allowed to invest in the characters properly, which is rare in most recent horror films. The general story is taken from the various backpackers murders which have made headlines, which gives this film a very real and dangerous edge to it.

Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath & Kestie Morrasi play the three travellers very well. At first, they all display an innocent charm and just set out to have a good time. But when Mick enters the picture, their joy turns to horror, and all of the actors display genuine terror to great effect. The film belongs to John Jarrett however, who is so horribly evil, that his performance lingers long in the memory. Jarrett’s character is a very real monster, who doesn’t have to wear a mask or make silly remarks to be scary. It’s usually when his character doesn’t speak, that the real evil reveals itself. Being the professional actor that he is, Jarrett doesn’t go over the top in this role which could have been so easy to do.

The music score is very tense, but not overused, which adds considerably to the tension. The cinematography is excellent, giving the outback a harsh, almost sinister look. The film was mostly shot in South Australia and despite having a low budget, proves that good story telling can overcome anything.

This is genuinely a very terrifying film, which unfortunately can be all too real. Australian horror films are a rare genre, but well made ones such as these might see a resurgence in them. The performances are all great, and are deserving of the praise they are currently getting. This is definitely one of the scariest Australian films made and certainly the scariest film of the year.

Rating out of 10: 9

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) is called to a house by the parents of Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter). They are concerned by her strange behaviour and seek spiritual guidance. Father Moore determines she is possessed by the devil and performs an exorcism on her, which unfortunately goes horribly wrong. The priest is then arrested for her death and is defended by lawyer Erin Brunner (Laura Linney). Erin sets out to convince the jury that the exorcism was warranted, and via flashbacks, the audience is told what really happened. But sinister forces threaten Erin at every turn with mysterious things happening to her - is it the work of the Prince of Darkness himself?

The influence of ‘The Exorcist’ looms large over this film. That film basically said all there was about that genre, and the 3 sequels that followed after it just repeated the same story. However, this film does add a few new things to the mythology and is a cross between a legal drama and horror film. As the film is mainly told in flashbacks it slowly opens up the story and the audience gradually learns about the characters and builds sympathy for them. At times, the film does tend to go into ‘head spinning’ territory, although overall this is quite an intelligent and thoughtful rendition of the exorcism tale.

Laura Linney is very strong as Erin, who tries to overcome her disbelief at what is happening, but gradually becomes focused in fighting for her client. Her courtroom scenes are well handled, and are carried thru with believable conviction. Less convincing however, are her scenes where she is being ’stalked’ by an unseen presence. These scenes merely feel like padding and don’t really add much to the film. Tom Wilkson is excellent as Father Moore, who feels that what he did was right, and who wants to preserve the memory of Emily Rose. Jennifer Carpenter certainly earns her money as Emily Rose, playing an innocent girl at first, but then gradually becoming possessed. Her possession scenes are very well done and very effective, making the audience feeling sorry for her, but fearful at the same time. Campbell Scott as the attorney prosecuting the case is the strongest member of the cast, playing a religious man who is bound by law to prosecute Father Moore, but conflicted by what he believes in himself.

This is quite a well constructed film that treats its subject matter seriously and slowly unfolds at a good pace. The film is allegedly based on ‘a true story’, which seems dubious at best, but as a fictionalised horror/drama, it works. There are moments where the film seems stretched out a bit, and the scares aren’t as shocking as they could have been. However, this is quite an interesting film which boasts a generally fine cast.

Rating out of 10: 7

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