Friday, July 24, 2009

There's Always That One Movie That Scares the Crap Out of You Exclusively

And I do mean exclusively.

Horror movies run in my family blood. My family is very much into scary movies, often with zombies or vampires as the main players. I happen to enjoy all of those films but am much more of a splatter (splat pack, if you will) genre fan, way, way into the Saw Eli Roth Rob Zombie Backwoods Abandoned Bloody Chainsaw kind of movies. I spent a lot of time holed away in my bedroom with the lights off, watching limbs fly across the TV screen. Thank you, Blockbuster Unlimited Movies Pass.

Over time, I grew to have many favorites. I loved Ginger Snaps, a wildly impressive take on werewolves, poor misunderstood May who only wanted the perfect parts of people, the crazy threesome of Captain Spaulding, Otis and Baby in House of 1000 Corpses and the sequel The Devil's Rejects, and naturally, I was very much a fan of the tragic romance in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula.

But while I had many favorites, I did not have a single movie that scared me. Like, scary to the point where you have to hide under the covers or sleep with the lights on. I watched movies everyone else thought were terrifying (The Exorcist, The Shining, The Ring...hmm, lots of 'thes') but apart from one movie (It) none of these worked with me.

Then came that fateful day I decided to rent Wolf Creek.

This movie was supposed to be lame. It was a joke with all of the students in my grade at school. For the favorite movies portion of the yearbook, one girl even cited it as her favorite movie of all time (she was a freshman). I imagined there might be a cheap thrill or two but nothing worthwhile. The premise is that some college kids go out to an abandoned place in Australia, car breaks down, friendly Aussie offers them a place to stay for the night and when they wake up, it's a battle to stay alive. Blah, blah, blah, one survivor, probably a final girl, maybe the Aussie guy gets his comeuppance, blood and guts, typical stock plot. I was jaded and ready for the formula.

How wrong I was. (Spoilers ahead, fair warning)

Wolf Creek starts out innocently enough. Sort of. These two British girls are on holiday in Australia, Liz and Kristy.

Liz- brunette, smart, strong.
Kristy- blonde, weak, dependent on Liz.

Anyway, they're at a party that looks like it fell straight out of some Laguna Beach episode. They meet a guy named Ben there. Ben is cute and the girls like him. They trust this stranger that they met at a party of random drunk guests enough to spend the rest of their holiday with him, even so much as driving out to this deserted middle of nowhere place called Wolf Creek where a crater fell and made a big hole. Woo. That'll make for an interesting "what I did over my holiday" return paper.

Seriously though, you're in Australia and you decide that instead of seeing the sites and amazing architecture or at least trying to drive around and find the house Nicole Kidman lived in, you must go to this one abandoned place instead? Let's not forget that you're going with only two other people, your weak bestie (I'm putting myself in Liz's shoes) and a strange guy you barely know. But the boy is cute. That important detail must not be overlooked while rationing whether you go or not.

They go out to the crater place which predictably sucks. Everyone gets back in the car which won't start. Time seems to have literally stopped because everyone's watches are frozen and the cell phones have no reception. Thanks, T-Mobile. They all stay in the car until the incredibly pitch black nightfall sets in. Then a blue pickup truck with a guy named Mick shows up. Mick keeps his freak flag under wraps and with his charming Aussie accent, gets the threesome to agree to spend the night at his camp where he makes them all dinner and they shoot the shit until they all go to sleep, from drugs slipped in the water they drank. Nighty-night.

When Liz wakes up, she's tied to a bed . She's alone and the only reason she's awake is because Kristy is screaming her head off off screen. Kristy is tied up outside with Mick, our helpful Aussie, shooting at her. And our cute boy, Ben, he is nowhere to be found.

Speeding the plot up, Liz takes control of the situation and tries to get Kristy and herself out of there (note that they do not stop and say "I wonder where Ben is." applause Liz, applause. he probably wouldn't do that either if the roles were reversed).

Liz winds up in a garage and finds pictures and video cameras from past victims. These are disturbing because many were small children. Then she happens to find her video camera.

Early on in the movie, Liz and Kristy were filming their holiday. When they were with Ben, the trio went to get gas for their car. In the background, you can clearly see Mick's blue pickup. He was watching them, even then. That paints a creepy portrait for anyone on a vacation to hypothetically contemplate.

Onward to the deaths...

Liz dies.

The magnitude of this was stunning to me. Liz is the smart, resourceful, brunette who practically has the "FINAL GIRL" phrase stamped across her forehead. And she gets it first from Mick who stabs her in the back and then in the spine, rendering her unable to walk. He then cuts her head off and puts it on a stick (off camera).

You just didn't see it coming.

Kristy is still alive. Maybe our final girl will defy the typical stereotype? She manages to get off to the highway and gets a ride with a stranger but Mick catches up with her in his truck (because she spent like, 20 minutes waiting around for Kristy when she could have already made some headway) and shoots and kills the stranger. Kristy drives but Mick shoots out the car tires with his sniper rifle and then shoots and kills Kristy and sets the car on fire as well as Kristy.

Meanwhile...we find Ben has been tied up in a cave a la Jesus Christ. All he does is untie himself and finds a highway and winds up being the only survivor. I shit you not. While those two girls went through unimaginably horrific situations, Ben walks a free man.

Note that he does not try to canvass the camp to find the girls either. Suspicious. According to the tagline, Wolf Creek is supposed to be inspired by "actual events" but isn't, though it takes a few killing cues from infamous backpack murderers.

And this movie was the one that scared the bejeezus out of me. I have no idea why (though the whole thing about the smart girl getting axed first probably holds a heavy hand in it). There are somewhat scarier movies like High Tension and The Descent that should have frightened me more but nope, Wolf Creek did it. It's worth a watch if you haven't seen it before...

But I kind of just spoiled the whole thing so maybe you don't need to watch it.

Love to you all,

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