The Australian Outback is a place to get easily lost in, as has happened many times over the decades, but what if a proportion of the missing did not want to get lost at all? What if they were assisted on their way to oblivion? Not something immediately concerning tourist Eve Thorogood (Lucy Fry), a young woman on holiday with her family who have decided such a trip will help her with her drugs issues that she has recently begun to manage. Her father is still strict with her, and will not even allow her to use the first aid kit unsupervised, but this will soon be the least of her problems after her younger brother goes for a swim and is nearly eaten by a crocodile. Luckily he is saved by a passing pig hunter. Unluckily, he is Mick Taylor (John Jarratt).
If you don't know who he is, no, it's not the member of The Rolling Stones who replaced Brian Jones, it's the notorious fictional serial killer who had already starred in two horror movies out of Australia and here to capitalise on what had been very successful for director Greg McLean it was decided to conjure up something for the small screen in the same vein. Television was not the obvious choice for slasher movies to end up, but after the non-hit Harper's Island, which had patently given some producers a bright idea, it took a while but we did end up with a much-lauded adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and the Scream franchise making the move to the small screen, among a select few other examples.
McLean had a story credit and was onboard to direct the sixth and final episode, the others being handled by Tony Tilse, but there was enough of the general feel of the previous two movies to have this small screen excursion for the seemingly indestructible Taylor more or less of a piece with what had gone before in the movies. There was a conscious effort to explore the landscape of the villain, from his background (we find out what set him on his path to mass murder, perhaps inadvisably though it was nasty enough) to the sort of people he would be interacting with when he felt the need to come in from the Outback and meet the locals across the vast area of Southern Australia where he plied his trade as a slaughterer of pigs and kangaroos.
But that was what was important to sustaining the consistency, the surroundings, lovingly filmed to their best advantage and managing to look inviting and forbidding at the same time. If the notion of losing yourself on a trip to the middle of nowhere appealed, then this region of the world was surely attractive, yet the Wolf Creek franchise might make all but the hardiest of travellers think twice about indulging the old wanderlust. Not simply because there's a maniac out there who delights in gorily disposing of the tourists, but because the rough and ready inhabitants of that area were a law to themselves, according to this TV series at least, such as the seemingly harmless like Deborah Mailman's diner owner relying on the faded appeal of a supposed religious vision there (a great turn) and "Jesus" (Fletcher Humphrys), the hopelessly deluded alcoholic who may be compos mentis enough to offer valuable clues.
On the other hand, there were the outlaw types, literally so, the gang members who provide an additional threat to Eve when she decides to avenge not only her own family but every innocent victim of Taylor's decades-long spree, though there is one escaped convict who ends up on her side. There was a danger of spreading the plot so thinly over around five hours of screen time that you would lose interest as it became repetitive, yet the creators managed to keep things engaging by throwing as many idiosyncratic characters as they could into the mix, most identifiably from the nation that brought us so many great Ozploitation efforts in the cinema. The Taylor character remained a terrific, relentless monster, his random choosing of victims who don't stand a chance against him his strongest feature, and Fry's Eve was enough of a match for him thanks to the amount of space she was given to plan and luck her way through an ambition that not even the cops (represented by Dustin Clare) have ever achieved a success with. If the climax was both too abrupt yet oddly drawn out, there was enough in the Wolf Creek series to justify it, the journey to bring Mick to account the best aspect over those half dozen instalments. Music by Burkhard von Dallwitz.
[Eureka's two-disc Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, the HD bringing out every detail of that landscape. A collection of interview featurettes are the extras.]