Two highway patrol cops are sitting in their car, bored out of their minds in the Australian Outback and waiting for anyone to pass by speeding. This happens very rarely, so to kill time the cops invent reasons to stop them, as happens now when a truck drives by just under the speed limit and the sergeant (Shane Connor) tells his partner (Ben Gerrard) to hit the accelerator and give chase, because the driver wouldn't know the difference. The driver is Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), and he is a pig farmer in the area to hunt, but didn't count on his journey being halted for spurious reasons, so when the sergeant orders him out of the cab he makes a special point of laying out his large knife on the passenger seat. When the cops start hassling him, it is they who regret the encounter...
Wolf Creek was, according to director and co-writer Greg McLean, always intended to be the start of a series, though he didn't wish to follow up his international hit immediately and made a crocodile horror afterwards. Then there was a barren patch until he brought back Mick Taylor whch proved a hit too, and the franchise he always dreamt of was well and truly underway, with Hollywood calling shortly after. If the first instalment was a tribute to the shockers of the nineteen-seventies, most blatantly The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, this sequel was more eighties in style, with its villain a wisecracking and invincible foe, destined to return again and again until the audience's interest wore out.
Funnily enough, although he was excellent in the role, Jarratt hated Taylor as a character, finding him more repellent than perhaps McLean did, as there were signs he was supposed to be one of those odd antiheroes that series horror threw up in the decades after iconic chiller personalities were introduced. This led audiences to wonder if the director bore a massive grudge against tourists in the way that his bad guy did, which was if anything even more pronounced in the sequel, though they would have to admit if Mick were an accomodating nice guy he wouldn't be half as effective in these psycho flicks as he was. He may make you laugh occasionally, but you were rarely in any doubt he was encapsulating the least attractive traits of boorish Aussies and that was used to craft his unlovely personality.
It was just that he was so wily, so cunning in his dealings, that he could be mistaken for a hero should the viewer wish to take that angle. Regard the first scene, where he gives a pair of crooked cops what many would think they had coming, it's only when the sergeant is just about to expire he gets a line that humanises him, before that it's all exploding heads and jokey references to Babe, which if nothing else built an interesting tension in not knowing how we were intended to react, or if the way we were reacting was indeed the correct one. Taylor behaves like this is a great big lark, a joke that he invites you in on, yet his potential victims act as if there was very little funny about this at all - if anything their responses are deeply sincere, serious and based in a terror that is understandable should you put yourself in their place.
Once the cops are dispatched with, we can get on with the main story where a couple of German backpackers (Shannon Ashlyn and Philippe Klaus) are thoroughly enjoying the Australian scenery, and little wonder when it has been presented as strikingly as cinematographer Toby Oliver was able to capture it in this case. This really was one of the best-looking wilderness horrors, even bettering the first instalment in parts, the Wolf Creek crater in this too, though whether that lent it an air of authenticity was debatable since McLean included the "true story" captions in true Texas Chain Saw fashion, something that against reason had some viewers fooled it had all happened thanks to him inventing a scenario for what befalls those people who wander off into the Outback and are never seen again. Culminating in a bizarre quiz show of sorts and a Rolf Harris singalong even more uncomfortable now than intended, Wolf Creek was that rare sequel just as entertaining as the first, even if no matter how much you winced you suspected someone found this ghoulishly funny. Music by Johnny Klimek.