Sonya Hartnett: Wolf Creek

‘Pinched meanness’

Adam Rivett


Wolf Creek (Australian Screen Classics)
by Sonya Hartnett
Currency Press, $16.95 pb, 64 pp, 9780868199122


Wolf Creek, released in 2005, was always smarter than your average slasher. Anchored by a brilliant performance by John Jarratt, the film was harrowing enough to strike the unobservant as another Saw or Hostel, but far more lurked there for those who bothered to look. In acclaimed novelist Sonya Hartnett’s brief but vivid critical study, the film has found the analysis it deserves. In the book’s arresting autobiographical opening, Hartnett, describing the fear and deprivation of childhood, coins the term ‘two-bit antipodean horror’, which she claims to prefer to the more familiar ‘Australian Gothic’. It evokes a ‘sullen blandness’ at the heart of the country, and it’s this pinched meanness, this horror, that she describes so well in her study.

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Published in February 2012, no. 338
Adam Rivett

Adam Rivett

Adam Rivett is a Melbourne-based reviewer. He contributes to The Slow Review.