Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
|10.06.05||Alamo South Lamar||This Screening is part of event: FantasticFest 2005|
I've been wanting to see this movie since Australian night at QT6, when Quentin told the story of his favorite Aussie actor John Jarratt. Jaratt was the star of the giant Croc movie he showed that night called Dark Age, and the story, in a nutshell went like this: He's his fave actor so when Aussie press asked him who his fave actor was he named John Jaratt. They were all surprised because, unbeknownst to QT, Jaratt had become sort of a TV handiman with a show where he basically guided you through building shelves or fixing your sink, that type of stuff. Well, QT persisted and the next day all of the Aussie press had headlines: HANDIMAN JARATT HAS HANDI-FAN TARANTINO. Cut To: Greg McLean trying to get this horror movie called Wolf Creek togather, about a group of kids who get abducted by some random dude out in the middle of nowhere. McLean was trying to convice the studio to hire none other than John Jaratt for the random killer role but they were laughing him off, saying he's just a has-been with a handiman show on TV. The QT headline hits and what do you know, Jaratt gets the gig. Jaratt's so good in the role that his career is now going through a resurgence! (as an epilogue to this particular tale of coincidence... after I watched Jaratt in Dark Age that night at QT6, I went home and checked the news and wouldn't you know it there's an announcement that Greg McLean, producer/writer/director of hit horror film Wolf Creek, has announced that his next film will be a Giant Croc movie!)
So ok, i am hardcore, I am die-hard. I didn't go to the party because I wanted to see this movie so bad.
Kier-la intro'd this one, saying that she tried really hard to get it because the Weinstein company bought it without even showing it and have been very secretive about it since then, generally giving the impression that it's really good and they know it. She also mentioned that the gore is supposed to be pretty grisly, citing Irreversible and Funny Games as movies it's been compared to. Ahh Kier-la, my crush grows. The guy next to me said that she was invited in to one of his film classes to talk about the birth of exploitation film. I SO want a film-scholar girlfriend right now.
ANYWAY, the show started with an Australian animated short called Ward 13, which is a big escape sequence where this guy with a bandaged up head runs and fights with deranged doctors that are turning their patients into monsters. It's really bizarre but very fast-paced and actually had a few funny gags thrown in there. Highly surreal.. like Mr. Bob meets Jacob's Ladder.
Then Wolf Creek started. The film takes a very 70s approach: lots of long lenses, lots of sunset lighting, a cutting rythm that doesn't really explain what's going on but more like gives glimpses of scenes that aren't really important enough to know all the details anyway. Then they break down in the middle of nowhere and a guy comes along and offers to town them back to his place and fix their car.
Now, at this point, about 50 horror movie cliches and pitfall cookie-cutter situations are probably flashing through your mind. You can probably guess how the rest of this movie goes. In some ways you would be sort of right but for the most part you are dead wrong, dude. First off, the movie doesn't devolve into typical third-act Hollywood horror filmmaking of today. There's no lightning storms or big twists that a good guy is really a bad guy or anything like that. OK there are a lot of "this key won't start this car!" going on but it's shot in a really great gritty naturalistic way. It's really more akin to films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes where you just watch as events unfold. It never quite becomes apparent that these are just characters in the movie you're watching, which is quite an achievement for a horror film!
Also, some of these cliches do get flipped. Maybe it's because it's Australian instead of Hollywood-churned-out, but the sequence and way that events unfold didn't feel comfortable to me, it didn't feel expected. For example, the kids are made up of two women and one dude... and there's like a good half hour where we don't see the dude AT ALL. We don't know if he's dead, alive, escaped, whatever... he's just not dealt with for a solid half-hour. There's also a great interchange between the women, where one seems to take the familiar "strong girl heroine" role but then gets completely stripped of any power, both figuritively and literally. We don't even see her die... that's how unimportant she becomes and the film treats her likewise.
Maybe I'm reading into it a bit much but I just really had a great time with this movie. It's really what I love about horror films. The gore/violence was not as traumatic as Irreversible (haven't seen Funny Games yet but i've read about it and it's on my list), but John Jaratt does make one hell of a bad dude. There's a GREAT scene involving him and a high-powered rifle. There's two great scenes involving him and a high-powered rifle actually, but one in particular... I can't really think of a better way to execute that scene.
Randomosities from my notebook:
-"head on a stick"
-the dude has an awful lot of drool
-weird eclipse shots thrown in for no reason.
-they just end it!