Over the past few years there have been a handful of genre directors creating compelling cinematic nightmares which have terrified audiences. One such flick is 2005’s intensely disturbing WOLF CREEK. In it, director Greg Mclean introduced the world to Mick Taylor – wonderfully played by John Jarrett - one of the most menacing horror movie psychos in years. With the first film we witnessed this charismatic lunatic transform from a kindly stranger with a wicked sense of humor into a vicious predator. Well this time out with the release of WOLF CREEK 2 (ORDER IT HERE), we are fully aware of how messed up he is and we get to see just how far he’ll go for the chase.
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with the very talented filmmaker and discuss the latest adventures of good old Mick. Calling this film the “feel bad movie of the summer” the director went on to talk about massive action sequences and what happens when one comes face to face with a ton of kangaroos running across the road. We also talked about the possible future of Mick Taylor in regards to WOLF CREEK 3 and just how excited he is to take on the supernatural with Blumhouse.
You can take a gander at Arrow’s review where he calls WOLF CREEK 2 ‘the best horror film of the year so far’ and you can check it out for yourself on VOD in North America on April 17th and in theaters on May 16th.
Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead
Hey Greg, how are you?
Pretty good! How’s it going?
Very good man, I was just watching your film and I gotta say, I was f*cking blown away.
It’s a very nice family film, I’ve noticed.
Yeah, I know. It’s the feel bad movie of the summer.
Now, how has your progression as a filmmaker made an impact on the way you told the story of this character that we’re revisiting from the original WOLF CREEK?
It’s been so long since I did the first movie that my interest as a filmmaker and the kind of directors I was looking at has changed a lot. This time around, it was more about exploring ideas of cinematic suspense. So, what I wanted to do was to take all the really cool elements of the first movie and make a film that explores the character of Mick Taylor more. Also, as a filmmaker, I wanted to do things that I’ve never done before, like a twenty minute action sequence or a twenty minute dialogue scene. Things that were really challenging as a director and this kind of gave me the chance to do those things.
You do have this really great sequence in the film with John Jarratt and Ryan Corr and there’s a really fun bit of dialogue which I don’t think you see in a horror film generally. How did that come about and what was the idea behind it?
When we finished the first movie, we had an option immediately afterwards to make a sequel from the Weinstein’s, but I didn’t want to just put out a sequel, especially if it wouldn’t be as good as the first one. It wouldn’t respect what we’d just done and I’m very proud of the first one. So, in the subsequent year, my co-writer and I threw a script together and it was good. It was pretty decent, but it wasn’t an amazing script and there was something that wasn’t quite right about it. So, we all went on to do different things and a couple of years later, I came back to it and I realized it wasn’t thematically right or had a real point. Once I realized that, I delved into the character of Mick and his psyche and thought it would be pretty amazing to have this kind of action chase movie and to get a character to go face to face with Mick. The idea of having someone trapped with him and having to talk his way out of getting killed. Basically, when I had that idea, I was able to develop Mick and explore his mind and do all that cool stuff to see how f*cking crazy he was. It gave me an opportunity to explore his mind.
Well, it’s a great bit of dialogue. I thought that was so much fun.
Yeah! It’s all very Australian. I’m glad people are enjoying it. We were so worried because this movie deals so much with Australian history and I’m stoked people are seeing it that way.
Speaking of Australia, you shoot the hell out of this beautiful landscape. How important was that to you in telling the story?
Personally, I grew up in the country. I love the landscape and I love the outdoors and nature. I’ve always been a fan of the way the landscape looks and that crept into my film. Using the landscape to tell the story and reflect theme or show poetic images was really important to me. I definitely try to show the landscape in an interesting way and for the film we got to shoot in these amazing locations and photograph it in 2:35 widescreen. It’s a beautiful place to be and shoot.
It looked gorgeous. Now I want to talk about how incredible this truck sequence is. How much of this is the real deal? How much did you get to do on the roads and how many cars did you get to destroy?
Pretty much all of it is real. The great thing about shooting out there is you can pretty much do whatever you want. We just closed down the entire highway and we ran those cars through ten miles. We had one truck and two jeeps, so we had to make sure they ran for the whole two weeks we shot that sequence. For the big truck chase, we literally took it to the top of a hill and threw it off and that’s really what it looks like.
Well, it’s amazing to watch. It’s a rare thing to watch something so big and operatic in this kind of a horror film.
Yeah. To me as a filmmaker, if I’m gonna do it all, I want it to mean something. I want to do things as big as possible and I want to shoot what I’d like to see done. That sequence was me seeing how far I could possibly take it and how much I could blow people’s minds. It was really fun to play with those things and take it to the highest possible level.
Now, I know it’s been talked about to death and it’s probably one of the coolest scenes I’ve seen in a while, but did you have any idea how people would react to the kangaroo sequence?
No! That was just one of the many gags in that sequence and when I was designing it we just wanted all these different events that would happen in a Looney Tunes kind of cartoon way. I think the thing with the kangaroos is pretty outrageous and kind of crazy but it is just because we do it so realistically. In Australia, trucks driving through the Outback - every day you go out there and you’ll see four or five kangaroos that have been hit by a truck. I’ve been out in Australia forever and it’s so common to see, but it’s something that I haven’t really seen on film. So, when Mick responds to it the way that he does, it was a very interesting way to demonstrate his personality.
Speaking of Mick’s personality and where he is here, how much have you thought about where to take this character if you move forward to WOLF CREEK 3?
I’ve certainly thought about it. In development time between the script, Mike Hearn, Aaron Sterns and I thought about different things we could do. We are really focused on seeing how this film goes and if people embrace the character and embrace this film, there is certainly a place for WOLF CREEK 3. And what we’ve also done is, because we’ve spent so much time working on the script, we actually wrote two prequel novels to WOLF CREEK. Aaron and myself wrote the first one which is called “Wolf Creek: Origin” which was published by Penguin in February. And we wrote “Wolf Creek: Desolation Game” which was published by Penguin as well. That was co-written by me and a writer called Brett McBean who is another Australian horror writer. And in those books we explore Mick’s life up until the point of the first film. So we see the development of him from a child into his early life and then really sort of demonstrate what happened to him that turned him into this incredible evil figure. So it has been explored that way but there is certainly more ways to explore it the other way as well. But again it is really about seeing how people respond to this movie.
What has the experience of delving into the supernatural with 6 MIRANDA DRIVE been like for you so far?
Cool. I mean, I’ve always been very fascinated with the supernatural. I’m curious about that and I’ve always loved supernatural horror films. So to me it’s going to be really great to explore fear in a very mundane and normal environment. And personally I’m just very excited about actually shooting inside a house and making a much more drama focused kind of horror film. So that is going to be really exciting for me to do that.
And to work with Blumhouse is probably very exciting as well.
It’s awesome. You know, there is no better place to be doing that kind of movie right now. It’s going to be really fun. And also we have an amazing cast lining up as well. Working with actors is one of the things that I most enjoy about filmmaking so it’s going to be a real treat.