Wolf Creek S01E05 “Rome” REVIEW
Essential plot points:
- Eve has taken a job working at a girlie bar in Rome, disguising herself as a Canadian with a black wig, and watching out for Mick.
- Mick comes to the bar, and after realising the local police won’t do anything, she chases after him – eventually getting his registration plate. But Mick realises he’s been followed, and watches her back.
- She contacts Hill, who traces the call and flies to Rome to find Eve. He agrees to help her find and kill Taylor, knowing that otherwise the killer would escape justice.
- As Eve follows Peter, one of Mick’s previous victims, Hill phones his wife to say goodbye, before realising he is being watched by Mick Taylor. The detective gives chase, but is ambushed and stabbed by the killer, slumping to the ground.
- Eve returns to the town but finds Hill’s car empty – and at the caravan, his clothes have been laid out on her bed. She heads to the police station but finds the local cop murdered. She asks her roommate to tell Mick where she is next time he comes to the bar.
- She tool ups, buying a sub-machine gun and ground traps as she prepares to make a last stand at a graveyard outside the town.
- Unfortunately, her roommate passes the information on to the wrong people – and Kane’s brother Ginger and his biker gang arrive instead. After a firefight she’s overpowered, but before he can execute her, Jonny – the escaped convict she helped, rescues her, having been double-crossed by Ginger’s gang in the past.
- Eve and Jonny take shelter in a shed in the wilderness, but after they kiss she kicks him out, and takes painkillers before passing out. When she wakes up the next morning, she finds her gun has gone – and Jonny’s dismembered, decapitated body dumped outside.
There’s a phrase you hear quite a bit among football fans: the final before the final. It’s when you get a knockout competition draw that pits the two favourites in the semis – guaranteeing that semi-final will be a fantastic game, but risking devaluing the final as a side-effect.
And that’s the risk here. Because “Rome” is just outstanding. Genuinely outstanding. Tense, brutal, amusing, powerful and genuinely horrific, with more gore and splatter than the last three episodes combined.
At times Wolf Creek felt like the show was spinning wheels to get to this point. Not so here – there’s a full two episodes’ worth of plot crammed into 45 minutes, meaning you can’t take your eyes off the screen. From the moment Eve sees Mick in the bar, the cross country game of cat and mouse becomes a high stakes battle for survival, with Taylor literally cutting down anyone who could help Eve.
Those stakes are hammered home in ominous fashion too, as we meet one of the few survivors of Mick’s reign of terror – Ben Mitchell, from the original Wolf Creek film, who was crucified by Taylor and written off as a loon afterwards. It’s a subtle reiteration of the show’s origins and the film’s consequences. Eve and Sullivan talk about fleeing together once they’ve killed Mick but as we see, nobody escapes unscathed.
The scene where Sullivan Hill says what’s effectively goodbye to his wife, with Taylor reflected ominously in the car window, sums up the episode – which makes great use of the show’s cinematography and sound design to tell the story.
The Hill-Eve relationship has been quietly ambiguous – is there a romantic element to it, or a surrogate parent/child one? Both are hinted at, not least because of Hill’s troubled domestic arrangement, but there’s no easy denouement here. Perhaps just as well, as the one time we do see Eve get close to someone, they lose their head about it the next morning.
Really, if we’re being brutally critical, we should knock a star off for the massive chain of coincidences leading to the episode’s climax, with Jonny being in the same place as Ginger and Eve, given he has all of Australia to hide in. But frankly, this episode’s so damned good, we’re not going to be that churlish. And besides – it’s already been established that everyone is now looking for her, so it makes sense. Plus, it leads to a shootout in a graveyard that draws from just about every spaghetti western ever made, yet manages to be both fresh – submachine gun, anyone? – and chuck in Raimi-esque gore. It’s easy to see why director Tony Tilse was tapped up to work on Ash vs Evil Dead after that showdown.
This is bold, brave, brutal, brilliant horror TV. And the final episode, which sees Wolf Creek creator Greg McLean return to the franchise where he made his name, has a hell of a lot to live up to.
- The macabre one-finger salute from Mick that manages to wring some gratuitous black humour out of a truly horrific moment.
- We’ve been effusive in our praise for director Tony Tilse and cinematographer Geoffrey Hall already in these reviews, but there are two shots in particular this week – the opening aerial vista, and the silhouette in the graveyard – that are just stunning.
- Poor Doug the dog. Papped off onto Eve’s roommate at the end, he’s like Jonesy the cat in Aliens. Surely, having come this far, he should be joining Eve for the final battle.
- There is an arguable continuity error on the police report Eve reads describing the plot of the first film, which refers to one of the victims as Kirsty – the character in the movie is called Kristy. Let’s be generous and blame the police’s spellchecker.
And the Random:
- Jesus, the former victim Eve speaks to, is Ben Mitchell – the survivor of the original Wolf Creek movie. Fletcher Humphys plays him here – in the film he was played by Nathan Phillips, who’s since gone to America to be a big star (well, he was in Snakes On A Plane…)
- Ginger is played by former rocker turned actor Eddie Baroo, former frontman of Stodgewood, who shot to internet fame (the best kind, obviously) earlier this year after a photo emerged of his tattoos – all of which were based on drawings by his young kids. He also co-wrote the 2012 sci-fi film Crawlspace – which was produced by Wolf Creek creator Greg McLean.