Nearly a decade has passed since Greg McLean's Aussie horror cult hit, Wolf Creek, a film both reviled and beloved for its unspeakably ugly depths. While critics here in the U.S. mostly despised it (notably Roger Ebert gave it 0 stars), it became notable for the lead performance by John Jarratt as the Outback's grungy slayer of tourists, Mick Taylor. Taylor is back with his trust hunting knife and sniper rifle in Wolf Creek 2, a tired, unwanted sequel that should have been left Down Under.
The problem that arises when a character such as Mick Taylor becomes popular is the unnecessary desire to make him bigger, more animated, and thus more crowd-appealing. It's the Hannibal Lecter scenario; watering down the character by injecting comedy or making victims more despicable. Where Mick used to exude a quiet, horrifying menace out of every single pore, now he's a prattling jokester thrown into any number of ridiculous scenarios. CGI kangaroos are a thing in this movie. Really.
The problems start right off the bat with Mick dispatching a pair of bullying cops in extremely ugly fashion. Hey, they sorta deserved it for acting like a couple of jerks, which immediately casts Mick in the weak position of anti-hero. A normal balance is restored in his murderous pursuit of lost German tourists (Phillipe Klaus) and Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn). He's rugged; she's cute and kind of perky in the way inevitable female victims tend to be in these movies. Sure enough, after a brief run-in with Mick from which they fortunately escape, they end up camping right where he can find them. It isn't long before the pig-killing bushwhacker has moved on to another target, Paul (Ryan Corr), who stumbled into Mick's unfortunate orbit by the worst luck ever.
To be fair, the chase between Mick and Paul has a great deal of fun energy to it, but is Wolf Creek 2 really supposed to be fun? Isn't it supposed to make your skin crawl with fear? Instead, there are a lot more laughs than chills during their cat-and-mouse routine, which includes Mick hopping into a semi-truck and barreling through the previously-mentioned kangaroo. It's a squirm-worthy visual that will make you feel more for them than any of the human characters, but there's also something desperate about it. For all of the struggles McLean went through getting this movie made, was running over kangaroos the best he could come up with?
No, he also has the bright idea of forcing a captured Paul to fight for his life by answering a series of trivia questions on Australian history. It's as boring and lacking in tension as it sounds, only memorable for the use of the Aussie anthem, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport", used by ex-WWF wrestler Outback Jack. Huge body counts aren't really the point of Wolf Creek 2; it's the desolation and hopelessness inspired by miles of bare desert, making for a natural cage from which there is no escape. There are brief moments of excessive gore but no real sense of dread, and without it Mick Taylor is a forgettable slasher and Wolf Creek 2 a forgettable sequel.