Episode 1 DSC07490 John Jarratt as Mick Taylor in WOLF CREEK.  A Screentime Production for STAN. Photo Matt Nettheim

Every year, 30,000 people go missing in the Australian outback. 3,000 are never found. This legend has been etched into the minds of horror fans since writer/director Greg McLean unleashed his epic slasher Wolf Creek in 2005, snuffing out moviegoers’ image of the Crocodile Dundee bushman with the introduction of sadistic serial killer and rapist Mick Taylor.

Played with a pitch-perfect balance of disarming charm and unhinged depravity by the great John Jarratt, Mick Taylor is an ultimate apex predator cruelly toying with victims before striking out viciously.

He prowls the outback in search of stranded motorists and lost backpackers, offering help and tall tales to gain trust, not because he needs it to kill, but because he genuinely enjoys the interaction – the break from solitude – and the shock in their faces when he eviscerates them with his knife or explodes their heads with his rifle.

Episode 4 10-272 Lucy Fry as Eve Thorogood in WOLF CREEK. A Screentime Production for STAN. Photo Sam Oster

Wolf Creek and its 2013 sequel are violent, disturbing films chockful of gore and perverse humor – fun grindhouse filth elevated by Jarratt’s fearless and twisted performance and McLean’s deft storytelling. If anyone was ever crazy enough to bring it to the small screen, those two ingredients would be mandatory for a winning recipe.

POP, a joint venture between entertainment giants CBS and Lionsgate, on Friday, Oct. 14 will exclusively premiere a “Wolf Creek” six-part television event series. Written by Peter Gawler and Felicity Packard, the show is directed by Tony Tilse and executive produced by McLean, who also helms the final episode, titled “Wolf Creek.” Jarratt once again reprises the iconic role of Mick Taylor.

The story begins with an American family vacationing in Northern Australia. The parents are police officers attempting to rehabilitate Eve, their drug addicted teen daughter, played by Lucy Fry (Vampire Academy). The trip isn’t going well for the family as father and daughter continue to lock horns. Things get worse when their young son is attacked by an enormous saltie and rescued by none other than Mick, who is immediately welcomed to their campsite in show of gratitude.

Episode 4 -94 Dustin Clare as Det. Sgt. Sullivan Hill & Deborah Mailman as Bernadette in WOLF CREEK. A Screentime Production for STAN. Photo Sam Oster

Mick’s brutish demeanor and rough edges are menacing, but his heroic actions have earned him a couple of beers and totally dropped dad’s guard. He slaughters them all except Eve, whom he’s got unsavory inklings for. Against all odds, she escapes and lives to tell her ordeal to homicide detective Sullivan Hill, played by Dustin Clare (“Spartacus”).

Sullivan is kind and sympathetic, but can only add her file to the growing pile of cold cases on his desk, promising to catch the culprit and advising her to fly home to the States. Struck by agonizing guilt and hopelessness, Eve goes against Sullivan’s instructions and decides to hunt Mick down herself, relying on the investigative skills she picked up from her parents, a dingo pup she befriended on the road, and the case files she stolen from Sullivan to get the job done.

Eve travels from region to region (each episode is named after an outback town leading to Wolf Creek) looking for Mick, encountering a variety of colorful characters and doing her best to stay ahead of would-be rapists, a family of criminal bikers she’s swindled, and Sullivan, who has developed feelings for her that are only strengthened by his wife’s infidelity – a side effect of his workaholic-induced neglect.

Episode 5 DSC02298 John Jarratt as Mick Taylor & Felicity McKay as Desiree in WOLF CREEK.  A Screentime Production for STAN. Photo Matt Nettheim

Fruitless in her hunt, Eve takes a gig at what appears to be a popular breastaurant and waits with hope that Mick will patronize the establishment. He does. She calls on Sullivan for help while in Rome, but things don’t go according to plan. In fact, things go pretty fucking bad, leaving Eve to face off against Mick by herself, armed only with her wits, a makeshift javelin, and knowledge of his origins, why he kills.

“Wolf Creek” the show kicks off with three tremendous white-knuckle episodes (“Billabong,” “Kutyukutyu,” and “Salt Lake”), revisiting Mick in all his brutal splendor while establishing Eve as a formidable foil, setting up a fist-pumping showdown for Wolf Creek fans to savor.

Unfortunately, the second half of the series slows to an unexpected crawl, veering off into dull subplots inhabited by secondary characters no one will care about. Momentum is lost. Mick is put on the back burner, popping up briefly in episodes four and five, but offering no real scares and none of his signature quips – a practically dialogue free appearance. When the showdown comes, it lacks the intensity and fright of the Wolf Creek films.

Episode 6 D40 100 Lucy Fry as Eve Thorogood & John Jarratt as Mick Taylor in WOLF CREEK.  A Screentime Production for STAN. Photo Sam Oster

Jarratt owns every scene he gets, his performance gives Pop’s “Wolf Creek” its danger. While it loses steam at the end, “Wolf Creek” remains a fun ride thanks to Jarratt’s Mick Taylor and does enrich the villain’s lore. Lucy Fry and Dustin Clare also do an exceptional job with their characters, giving us heroes we can root for and actually don’t want to see at the end of Mick’s blade . When the plot sticks to these three, “Wolf Creek” is enthralling and frightening drama.

‘Wolf Creek” premieres Friday, Oct. 14 at 10P/ 9C.

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