Wolf Creek 2 is not your average horror movie sequel. It's not just the first movie's scenario -- backpackers who come across a murderous psychopath in the Australian outback -- with a new cast. Sure, it does involve tourists getting killed in the Outback by the devilish Mick (John Jarratt), but it's not a slasher with the co-eds swapped out for new ones. It's got big, elaborate car chases and Hollywood-worthy stunt work, and that's because writer-director Greg McLean treated this not like another horror movie, but a suspenseful action movie with horror elements in it.
Though just because this one dials up the action doesn't mean it dials down the gore. Wolf Creek 2 -- available on VOD now -- is not for the faint of heart. To put it bluntly, there is some really f***ed-up stuff in this movie that will make even hard-core horror fans feel a bit on edge. Basically, it's one of the more unique genre sequels to come along in quite some time.
And that's why we were so interested to talk with McLean about how the movie came together, how he and star John Jarratt collaborate together, and what kind of effect the hugely successful first Wolf Creek had on backpackers and the entire Australian film industry.
Movies.com: Were there any sequel ideas you developed over the years only to abandon them later, or was it always this idea?
Greg McLean: The genesis of it was that after we sold the first movie, it went from night to day and we had offers asking how quickly we could churn out a sequel and if we could get them another movie in six months. I just said there was no way. For me, personally, it's actually important to make things that are good, so I didn't want to follow a really good movie with a quickly made crap movie and tarnish everything we'd done. We eventually started developing sequel ideas ourselves, and we did develop a number of different concepts, but the basic version of this script was always the one we wanted to do.
It took a really long time to get it right, to develop it, and I was doing other things and John was doing other things, and eventually one of us said "If we're going to do this, we should really do it now," because it was getting to be a long time after the first one.
Movies.com: Since the first Wolf Creek started as just a small, independent Australian movie, were there any extra considerations you had to make this time around knowing that the film would already have international appeal?
McLean: Not really. If anything, we kind of did the opposite. It was still an independently financed Australian film, and I still had final cut and full control of the movie, so it was kind of the first film. I was intentionally trying to embrace that freedom creatively by doing some pretty outrageous things in the movie. I think part of the spirit of the first was that it was a horror film that only just put a toe over the line into areas that were funny and made the viewer uncomfortable. The second film does that as well, but it also does it in a very different way because the second film really is an action-suspense film with some horror elements. That was the kind of film I pitched.
Movies.com: There's some really brutal stuff in Wolf Creek 2. Was there any level of self-censorship that went on, whether on set or in the editing room, where you thought, maybe this is getting to be a bit much?
McLean: I wouldn't say this film was self-censored at all. You can go on endlessly about how far one can go with pushing boundaries, but with this film, since we had final cut, we had the chance to do anything and go anywhere, so it becomes about what's good for the character and the storytelling. The other thing is you don't want to just do things for shock value, so everything is character motivated.
Movies.com: Did you map out any pitfalls you feel other sequels fall into and give yourselves a set of rules when creating your own sequel?
McLean: To be honest, I really didn't think about that stuff, which is interesting because I've been reading reviews that talk about other sequels, like Texas Chain Saw going more comedic with its sequel, and to be honest, even though I'm a fan of Texas Chain Saw, I've never even seen the sequel. So the reviewers that say the tonal shift is similar, that's cool, but I haven't seen that one so I didn't even study rules about things like comedy or bigger is better. I guess it's just organic. These things are just logical because you don't want to make the same movie twice. You need to take into account that you can't do the same things the first one did, because the cat's already out of the bag in terms of what the character is, so you really have to make the sequel about the character because you can't hide him anymore.
Movies.com: Since it is so character driven for you, what's the working relationship with you and John Jarratt in terms of determining what the character would and wouldn't do?
McLean: Once we lock the screenplay, we have rehearsals, and then we're developing the script again during rehearsals. And once that's done, we get on set and develop it all over again. Even then, a lot of the scenes and dialogue stay the same, but often John may have an idea for a line or a scene. It's fairly organic all the way through. That's how I like to work. To have a very tightly structured screenplay and develop within that, and if a scene isn't working, make sure you massage it until it fits that structure.
Movies.com: Was the decision to not only make the film on a bigger scale but much more action oriented part of a callback to Ozploitation days where Australian movies were filled with great, big car and human stunt work?
McLean: The motivation was twofold. One was to do something I felt was a challenge to me as a director and difficult to do. I was designing things that were hard just to stretch and see if I could do them. But the idea was also just born out of storytelling. The simple idea of the script to me was just two people chasing each other through the outback. So the cinematic challenge is how long can you maintain that suspense? How thrilling can you actually make that?
I was structuring it like a Hitchcock movie, who is one of my biggest inspirations as a filmmaker. Very, very simple cinematic premise. It was a chance to experiment with suspense and play with ideas of action. From a purely directorial point of view I just wanted to muck around with those ideas and try things out. I was certainly wanting the film to make an impact. It's been a while since I've directed, so I wanted to flex some directorial muscles.
Movies.com: Did the first Wolf Creek have any kind of localized effect on the tourism trade? Kind of like how Jaws caused people to not go in the water, were there reports of its effect on backpackers?
McLean: The film was kind of a household name in Australia and it certainly put a spotlight on crimes in the outback that were surprisingly common years earlier, and it made people think twice and be very careful going to the outback. Once upon a time anyone would just hitchhike around the country, and our country is a lot of big, wide-open spaces that can be very dangerous areas. This applies to plenty of places in the world, but uniquely to the outback, if you get in trouble out there, there's just no one around to help you so you really were screwed.
Hopefully it made people more cautious, because you really do need to keep your wits about you when you're traveling. People can get a bit too familiar with things they should be paying closer attention to. I don't think it ever stopped one person from coming to Australia. I don't think anyone's ever seen it and thought, oh my God, it's a horror movie where people are killed in Australia, better not go there. It is only a movie at the end of the day.
Movies.com: Wolf Creek was the spearhead for a new wave of Australian horror. Did that put pressure on you to be a sort of figurehead for other filmmakers in your area? How did it affect your career locally?
McLean: It's not something I would ever think about consciously. The first movie certainly changed the perception in Australia that we can still make genre films. Before that time there was a sort of golden era where we were making genre films and more commercial films, but then it died down and the industry transformed a little bit. So it did kick open the door for a way of making films and looking at films. A lot of people who were passionate about horror and sci-fi and genre in general were inspired by seeing someone who made a little tiny film that got successful, international recognition. It motivated people to stop being afraid of whatever it was they were personally interested in.
I did produce movies for other people, but that was more about seeing people who were in the position I was. They were really talented but just didn't have anyone who could help them. I produced two movies for really talented directors who have since gone on to have massive careers, and that was a lot of fun for me. I like seeing people succeed like that. I like seeing talent thrive. So I did a little bit of that, but now it's good to be back in the director's chair after a few years of not doing that.
Movies.com: Was 6 Miranda Dr. a project you brought to Jason Blum?
McLean: Yeah, though I actually came out here to do another film for them. They became aware of this script I had, and they fell in love with it, so Jason said, "Hey, do you want to do this one first?" And because I'd been developing it for awhile, I said "Sure, let's just jump in." We put it together pretty quick. We've been filming for three weeks now, and I'm starting our fourth week soon. It's got an amazing cast, and it's been really fun making a movie out here in L.A. It's a horror film about a family who returns from a vacation to the Grand Canyon and something follows them home.
Movies.com: Will there be a Wolf Creek 3?
McLean: If enough people want it, there will be. It's really about demand. It's great to see people responding to and loving Wolf Creek 2. We've certainly already talked about it, but it comes down to whether or not people want it. They're so fun to make, so we really hope people love this one and it becomes a success.
Wolf Creek 2 is currently available to rent On Demand on Amazon, iTunes, cable and elsewhere. It will hit select theaters on Friday, May 16.
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