Wolf Creek S01E04 “Opalville” REVIEW
Essential plot points
- The van Mick Taylor shot off the road turns out to have been the tourists that interrupted Kane last episode. He kills them anyway, but manages to miss one of his bullets in his usual crime scene clear-up.
- Eve arrives at Opalville – a small mining community in the desert. At first she’s looking for Taylor but when there’s no sign, she follows up on a missing teenager from the town that’s thought to be one of his victims. Posing as a journalist, she investigates her family but finds out the girl was murdered by her own father instead.
- As she escapes his house, she’s bitten by one of his venomous snakes and crashes the van. She’s rescued and treated by an Aboriginal elder, Uncle Paddy, who recognises she was attacked and teaches her how to use a spear thrower.
- Detective Hill briefly reunites with his wife after her affair, but is still focused on Eve’s case and after reading about the murdered tourists in the van. He returns to the Madonna cafe, where Bernadette finally tells him which direction Eve’s gone.
- Eve reads about the murdered tourists in the newspaper and sets off. She passes the mother of the missing girl, who reveals her husband had killed himself. She tells Eve that she’d found her missing daughter’s body and could say goodbye – and that the police had found Eve’s gun.
- Sullivan catches up with her but she escapes, hiding inside the scoop of a JCB to avoid him, before driving off in a jeep, with the detective – and Kane’s biker gang, close behind. She identifies a town – Rome – close to some of Taylor’s attacks and sets off to find him.
- At Taylor’s compound, it’s revealed he’s abducted and tortured Bernadette, while Detective Hill has found Taylor’s discarded bullet.
Even with last week’s dramatic conclusion, it was obvious we weren’t going to get a confrontation between Eve and Mick Taylor just yet – after all, we’re only just over the half way point of a series.
So instead Wolf Creek continues to find new and creative ways of keeping the two apart, and keeping Mick’s presence limited without ruining the drama. This week we literally only see him twice – at the very start and the very end – and yet both times come as moments of utter horror.
While the films weren’t afraid to show their brutality front and centre, the TV show has been boxing clever; obviously restricted in what it can do, it plays instead with tension and psychological horror and implied violence punctuated by brief moments of explosive nastiness.
It makes those moments mean even more – with the final reveal that Mick’s taken Bernadette back to his lair one that will have you screaming at the screen.
Instead we got a nice little twist to the action, with Eve pursuing what would ultimately be a red herring but getting the chance to bring a small bit of vengeance and closure into someone else’s life. It also adds a nice spin to the show that, in the midst of all these murders, Mick actually isn’t responsible for all of them.
Indeed, Wolf Creek’s focus as a show has been on illustrating just how the wild, weird world of the outback – with punishing conditions and terrain – can drive people wild. It’s an environment that’s increasingly been filled with folk just on the wrong side of dangerous. Even Eve’s succumbing to it; shooting people, and, in one telling vignette, being tempted back into painkillers.
The sense of pace given to the episode disguises the fact that very little happens to advance the ongoing plot. Eve’s a step closer to Mick, but that’s all. Yet it works because Packard’s clever script and Tilse’s stunning direction provide enough to keep viewers interested. There’s even time for some moments of levity with a dog – that’s how successful it is.
But after such a diversion, we end on a montage showing the story’s not only back on track but also shifting up a gear; Hill has a clue, Mick’s back to his brutal ways and Eve is now lying in wait for him. The anticipation is killing us…
- The chase sequence through the tunnels and subsequent escape is genuinely edge-of-the-seat stuff, with Tony Tilse’s direction and intercutting between Eve and the snakes enough to set your skin itching. Likewise the spear training sequence, shot in shilhouette against a stunning sunset. If Tilse isn’t on Hollywood’s radar after this, there’s no justice.
- The level of coincidence required for everyone to keep coming so close to, yet miss, each other is bordering on the ridiculous.
- It’s tempting to give the cliché of the wise old Aborigine coming to Eve’s assistance a pass, thanks to the lovely performance Jack Charles turns in as Uncle Paddy. But it is a raging cliche, so – tough.
And the Random:
- Despite being set right across Australia, most of the series is filmed around the Flinders Ridges part of Southern Australia, where the two films were also made.
- John Jarratt, who was probably best known for Picnic At Hanging Rock before taking on the role of Mick Taylor, is now working on a documentary about the history of Australian cinema for Stan, the streaming service which produced Wolf Creek.
Review by Iain Hepburn