Greg McLean has only directed three feature films, but they’ve been enough to put him on the genre map, first with the cult hit Wolf Creek and then with 2007’s Rogue. He returns to familiar territory this week with Wolf Creek 2, a follow-up to the original with actor John Jarratt returning as Outback serial killer Mick Taylor. In an exclusive interview with Mania.com, McLean discussed the challenges of mounting a sequel almost ten years after the original.
Question: Was it tough selling a torture porn sequel in the midst of a somewhat gentler era of filmmaking?
Greg McLean: Not nearly as much as I feared, in part because we weren’t making the same movie. In Wolf Creek 1, Mick Taylor really is this mystery. He just happens to people, like a tornado or an earthquake. Here, we had a chance to look deeper into what makes him tick and how he functions as a human being. It’s still a Wolf Creek movie and we definitely wanted to have that hard, brutal edge to it. But I think it fits in with today’s horror movies as well as the first film fit in with the genre a decade ago.
Q: How does your approach to the material change after all those years away from the first movie?
GML: In some ways it’s a benefit because it lets you look at the material with fresh eyes. You’re less apt to just fall into a rut and do the same thing. I’m not the same director I was then. My interests have grown and changed, and the kind of directors I look at has changed in that time. At the same time, the character of Mick Taylor helps ensure that both films are still on the same page. It was a great feeling, and as I said, I think it really takes the story into a new era.
We could have put out a sequel right after the first film if we’d wanted to. The Weinsteins were interested and there was an option in the contract. But I’m very proud of the first film – it was something that meant a lot to me – and doing something that just regurgitated the same scenario just didn’t feel right. So we waited. I kept working on the script with my co-writer and we came up with some scenarios that I thought were pretty solid. But every time, there was something a little off about it. Something wasn’t quite right. So we kept at it and we all went on to other things. It wasn’t until we came up with the notion of a real one-on-one confrontation with Mick – where somebody really looks him in the eye and gets at whatever is driving him – that we knew we had that missing element.
Q: Was there anything really tough or challenging on this shoot that you didn’t expect?
GML: Well we had a little more money, so we were able to expand the scope of it a little bit. I got to do a big car chase here, and that was a real thrill. I’ve always wanted to do a car chase like something out of the Mad Max films. That helps you stretch a little bit creatively and of course you face logistical challenges that you never anticipated. But this film gave me a lot of wonderful opportunities along with the challenges and get into some action sequences that I really loved.
Q: Was there an urge or a need to do that with CGI? Any pressure from the backers?
GML: No because in order to do CG right, you need a lot of money. And even if you can do something like that on a computer, it loses a certain authenticity. That’s the biggest mistake in the world for a film like this. It needs to be real and gritty and have that package of reality. As long as you’re safe – as long as you set it up carefully and make sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be – you can’t do it any better than just putting that big truck at the top of a hill and tossing it off.
Q: Is a Wolf Creek 3 in the works?
GML: Well we have to see how audiences respond to this one first, but Mick Taylor certainly has the potential to do a lot more stories. We actually have a couple of novels written that cover Mick’s origins, how he came to be. So even if the demand for a third movie isn’t there, there are tons of other ways to explore this character and this material.