Embracing and cherishing a long honored tradition is the pulsating driving force in the new horror thriller, ‘Wolf Creek 2.’ The independent film, which is the anticipated sequel to the 2005 slasher movie, ‘Wolf Creek,’ maintains the brutality, gore and menacing villain, Mick Taylor, of the first installment, which helped make it the highest grossing R-rated film of all time in its native Australia. Filmmaker Greg Mclean, who made his feature film writing and directorial debuts with the commercially successful first movie, returned to the series nearly a decade after the original’s release to showcase that Mick continuously enjoys killing innocent victims, and audiences love watching him commit his heinous crimes.
‘Wolf Creek 2,’ which is set deep in the Australian outback, once again follows unstoppable serial killer Mick Taylor (Jarratt), who stakes out the isolated roads to look for tourists who’ve wandered off the trail. He finds two German backpackers, Rutger (Phillipe Klaus) and Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn), a couple who set up camp in the title national park. He lures them in as his easy prey when he persistently tells them they’re camping illegally in Wolf Creek.
When Katarina makes her escape from the serial killer, she’s rescued by Paul (Ryan Corr), a British traveler who’s also exploring the Australian outback. When he picks her up off the side of the road to bring her to safety, Mick tracks him down and now sets his murderous sights on the man who interrupted his original targets. But the serial killer is surprised to have found a victim who’s loaded with smarts and knowledge of Australia’s history, and is easily challenging him at his own game. Mick eagerly brings Paul into his underground lair, and the killer’s latest victim has to think fast to outwit his captor in order to save his life. Paul quickly discovers just how unforgiving an opponent Mick can be in the process.
Jarratt generously took the time recently to talk about filming ‘Wolf Creek 2’ over the phone. Among other things, the actor discussed how he helped Mclean shape the story for the sequel, as the filmmaker wrote the early drafts of the script and sent it to the actor, and they discussed how the plot would work; how after he did research, and created a backstory, for the original movie, the character of Mick never truly left him, so he was easily able to get back into his mindset; and how Klaus, Ashlyn and Corr were all incredible actors to work with on the set.
ShockYa (SY): You reprised your role of Mick Taylor in the horror thriller sequel, ‘Wolf Creek 2.’ What was it about the character and the series’ storyline that convinced you to once again play Mick in the follow-up?
John Jarratt (JJ): I basically worked with Greg on the script, so I was part of the whole process. I wasn’t handed the script and asked, “What do you think of this?” So I helped shape the script, so I couldn’t very well work on it for a few years, and then decide I didn’t like it. (laughs)
So I’m a part of the team, so I helped work on the story over a few years, until we were able to get the film up and running. So it was a process of working on the script.
SY: Greg, who penned and helmed the original ‘Wolf Creek,’ returned to the series to write and direct the sequel. What was the experience of reuniting with him to make ‘Wolf Creek 2?’
JJ: We not only reunited as the director and actor on the film, but we’re also good friends. So it was a partnership for us, and a natural process when we got to the set. We had been working on the film in many aspects for quite awhile before we began shooting.
It was like riding a bike again; Greg and I work very well together, since we know each other so well. He’s an excellent director, and we have a great shorthand together now. He knows what works and what doesn’t as a filmmaker.
SY: What was the process of creating the story for the sequel with Greg like-how did you decide what victims he would target?
JJ: Well, how we worked it is that Greg wrote the first and second drafts of the script, until he was fairly happy with it. Then he sent it to me, and we put our heads together, and figured out how it’s going to work. So I was presented with the script at that stage.
There was a whole sequence taken out that focused on two female backpackers. It was quite good in the genre, but things like that came and went, until we came up with a core feeling for the entire process. The fact that he chases backpackers is really the core of who he is. Buffaloes, kangaroos and backpackers are what you find in the outback. (laughs) So they were definitely on the menu for Mick.
SY: Speaking of the fact that Mick always targets backpackers, and the first film was released in 2005, what was the process of getting back into Mick’s mindset for the sequel?
JJ: Well, I didn’t do any additional research, because I did that for the first film. I did a solid backstory for the first one, so I didn’t suddenly change the character for this film. This character really works, so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It was just a continuation of who he is.
I was a lot more comfortable playing the part for the second film, because I knew he worked the first time. With the first movie, I didn’t know if he would work, because audiences had never seen him. I created the funny voice and laugh for the first film, and made him sound like a Warner Bros. cartoon. So the character really worked. I hadn’t been far away from him, because he’s quite iconic in this country (Australia), so wherever I go, I’m reminded of him every day. So he wasn’t so far away that I couldn’t jump back into his skin
SY: Mick targets Paul Hammersmith, an innocent passerby who tries to stop the killer after he attacks Rutger and Katarina. During his pursuit of Paul, Mick reveals hints on why he kills tourists. Why did you feel it was important to include that element in the story?
JJ: I think it’s obvious in a way that he kills tourists to keep Australia beautiful. There’s an ad campaign that’s very well known in Australia to pick up garbage off the sides of the roads, so that’s what the killings were all about.
He’s intelligent, but also a simple bloke without any real feelings. There are kangaroos out there in the outback, but to Mick, the backpackers were more fun. (laughs)
SY: Several of the locations in ‘Wolf Creek 2,’ such as the title national park and Mick;s dungeon, play essential roles in the story. What was your experience in shooting at the locations, and in Australia, overall?
JJ: It’s good to be in the environment the character lives in, as it makes it easier to portray him. Of course it helps to be in that environment. The outback is almost like another character in the movie. It’s ominous in the background, and is almost as dangerous as Mick. He’s really a part of the dark side of the outback, while Crocodile Dundee is the light side. (laughs)
SY: What were your working relationships with Philippe Klaus, Shannon Ashlyn and Ryan Corr, who played Rutger, Katarina and Paul, on the set? Did you have any rehearsal time with your co-stars, to help build your working relationships?
JJ: Well, for the two German backpackers, I thought, how are we going to find them? I asked Greg if we were going to Germany to find the two actors, and he said we would find them in Australia. I said, “Oh, come on,” but we did find two people who could speak fluent German and act in Australia, so we were extremely luck with Phillippe and Shannon.
With Ryan, who played the English backpacker, was also fabulous casting. They’re all really good actors, and they were all a pleasure to work with. The cast was terrific all around. Gerard Kennedy, who played Jack, is an all-around legend in Australia, so it was terrific. There wasn’t anyone I worked with on this film who I though was just ordinary; they were all great.
Written by: Karen Benardello