Wolf Creek S01E02 “Kutyukutyu” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Fox, Tuesdays, 10pm
Writer: Felicity Packard
Director: Tony Tilse
Essential plot points:
- In the outback, Eve accidentally catches her foot in an animal trap, badly cutting it. She manages to get to a local truck stop to get medical aid, but local yobs threaten her until a passing truck driver saves her.
- Arriving in Kutyukutyu, where a couple were previously abducted by Mick Taylor, she begins asking around, before accidentally crashing into a police car. The cop discovers a bag of weed in Eve’s van, left behind by the English tourists who used to own it, and arrests her.
- Detective Hill arrives and wants Eve released into his custody, but the local police refuse as he’s from a different state.
- Eve manages to escape her cell, using her athletic prowess, and visits Hill in his hotel room, before the police come looking for her. She evades them and follows her former cellmate Kane, who was involved in an armed robbery.
- At Kane’s house, she steals money and a gun before being discovered. Kane and his colleagues give chase, before being seen off by a junkyard owner. Eve uses the money to buy a new van, and head off on on her quest.
- Taylor comes across two Dutch tourists stranded after their car breaks down at Wolf Creek. He’s about to take them back to his compound but is stopped when a bunch of city guys arrive. Mick toys with killing them, but instead dumps their car into a creek while they sleep.
- At a bar afterwards, Kane and his friends arrive, looking for Eve. Mick’s there, and hears the American’s looking for him – and has tracked down his truck.
After the brutality of the opening episode, Wolf Creek shifts gears slightly to give us more of an insight into the core characters involved in this increasingly deadly triangle racing across America.
We’ve far less blood and gore here, but no less a sense of menace and malevolence, as the show begins to strip away the psyches of its main trio and give us a better look at who they are.
So we find out more about Eve – a talented elite athlete who ended up in disgrace because of her drug issues – and her self-destructive streak. It means her behaviour make more sense; the vengeance she seeks is as much about her own redemption as it is avenging her family, who despite the tension we saw in the first episode she was clearly very close to.
And likewise Hill, the stoic detective pursuing her across Western Australia. We already know he’s married, after his rejection of spending the night with Eve last episode, but there’s a suggestion of issues with his own domestic life; he hasn’t told his wife it’s a girl, not a boy, he’s chasing, which clearly troubles her.
We see Hill torn, between his admiration for Eve’s determination, and his frustration at her taking the law into her own hands (and evading justice in the process), hinting at a more explosive personality bubbling beneath the quite man who buys his young counterpart a Chinese takeaway.
Meanwhile Kutyukutyu doesn’t sideline Taylor, but does use the character sparingly, making his appearances all the more effective. An early glimpse of him carrying out his day job, putting down animals, adds a brief moment of viscera while later we see him about to abduct two young Dutch tourists before a bunch of city boys arrive on the scene and inadvertently stop him.
It gives us an interesting glimpse into Taylor’s psyche. Rather than kill the city slickers, something he probably could have done, he indulges in a petty act of revenge against them – something he impassively listens to others recount in the bar afterwards.
It, much like the second film, shows us Mick’s not just a psycho but he’s a psycho with a wry personality. The depth in John Jarratt’s performance takes Mick above just being a bog-standard horror villain.
And while it’d be tempting to focus entirely on the central trio, Felicity Packard’s script is chock-full of brilliant cameos and supporting characters – especially Rachel House’s brilliant gun-toting hard-ass trucker Ruth and Richard Cawthorne’s biker villain Kane.
In fact, the whole world of Wolf Creek just drips with menace, and not just from the malignant presence of Mick. The floating camerawork and the remarkable lighting in this episode, much of which is set at night in the grimmer parts of a Western Australian border town, give the whole thing a sleazy air.
Anyone who’s seen the brilliant documentary Not Quite Hollywood knows how good the Ozploitation industry was at creating moody horror, and that air of menace and unease permeates every scene.
It takes some doing to produce a TV show that leaves you feeling like you need a shower afterwards to get clean, but does so in a way that leaves you wanting more.
- Tony Tilse’s direction continues to elevate Wolf Creek from great to excellent, helped by some genuinely brilliant lighting. The scene in Kane’s back yard, and when Mick discovers the tourists, feel claustrophic despite being outdoors.
- Burkhard von Dallwitz’s score is sparse, with much of the music in the show coming from diegetic sources. But when it is used, it’s hugely effective.
- Richard Cawthorne’s performance as Kane is big, at times bordering on pantomime, especially in that first scene where he wants Eve to sing for him.
- The dog. C’mon.
- After praising Lucy Fry’s accent last week, there’s one or two decidedly wobbly moments this time out when she sounds far more Brisbane than Nebraskan.
And the Random:
- As well as teaching writing at the University of Canberra, episode scribe Felicity Packard is a regular contributor to Australian TV, working on shows such as Sea Patrol, Home and Away and, of course, the iconic crime series Underbelly, whose showrunner also writes for Wolf Creek.
- Wolf Creek’s theme tune, a brilliantly sleazy southern rock version of the nursery rhyme “Who Killed Cock Robin”, is performed by Dan Luscome from Aussie rock band The Drones and sung by Melbourne folk performer Lisa Salvo. It’s genuinely fab and deserves a proper release here.