The story is very simple: Having driven out into the middle of the Outback to view a scenic meteor crater, three attractive young people -- Ben (Nathan Phillips), Liz (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy (Kestie Morassie) -- find themselves stranded when their car won't start. After creeping themselves out with tales of alien visitations, they're rescued by a genial bushman (John Jarrett) ... and that's when very bad things start happening.
Since all the suffering takes place against miles of open desert with no hope of rescuers blundering in, comparisons to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" are inevitable, with a little of "Open Water's" nihilistic trajectory. There is isolation, there is panic, there is suffering -- a lot of suffering -- and then the credits roll.
But as artfully as McLean draws us into the story, and as mercilessly as he tells it, there's a coldness at the heart of "Wolf Creek" that keeps the horror from taking full hold of the viewer -- the same empty, impersonal blackness found in the eyes of a shark. You can admire its purity, but you can't really say you feel anything for it.
Genius Products is following the usual horror-movie strategy when it comes to the "Wolf Creek" DVDs, releasing the R-rated theatrical version and an unrated director's cut -- with five minutes of restored footage - as separate discs.
Both editions offer the same comprehensive extras, originally produced for the Australian DVD: An audio commentary that teams McLean and co-stars Magrath and Morassi with executive producer Matt Hearn, and a 50-minute digital-video documentary, "The Making of Wolf Creek," provides a nice fly-on-the-wall chronicle of the production.
There's also a single deleted scene, presented -- like everything else in the package -- in lovely enhanced widescreen.
STUDIO: Genius Products
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2006
TIME: 99 minutes (R)/104 minutes (unrated)
DVD EXTRAS: French audio dub; English and Spanish subtitles; audio commentary; documentary; deleted scene.
INTERNET SITE: wolfcreekthemovie.com