Some horror filmmakers make an iconic shocker and then let a new wave of filmmakers take the reins.
Think John Carpenter, who essentially created the slasher genre with 1978’s “Halloween.” The film legend had no creative role in the franchise over the years until taking an executive producer credit for next year’s “Halloween” sequel.
Not Greg McLean.
The Australian director behind 2005’s “Wolf Creek” won’t let go of the horror series. He wrote and directed the 2013 sequel and is the showrunner on the “Wolf Creek” TV series, currently wrapping production on its second season.
— Wolf Creek TV Series (@WolfCreekUK) October 15, 2016
Or, to put it bluntly, Aussie serial killer Mick Taylor is McLean’s demented baby, and papa won’t let the character’s fans down.
“These movies exist because ‘Wolf Creek’ has a big fan base,” McLean says, adding he takes pride in keeping a firm hand on quality control for the franchise.
The writer/director drew inspiration from several real-life killings to craft the 2005 “Wolf Creek.” Now, he’s the directorial force behind a film with a more personal, and reality-based, tale.
“Junge” stars Daniel Radcliffe as Yossi, an Israeli traveler longing for adventure in the Amazon jungle. He and his traveling companions (Alex Russell, Joel Jackson) encounter the usual obstacles.
Bugs. Scarce food. Torrential rain.
That’s just the beginning of their adventure.
The film, in theaters and On Demand / Digital HD Friday, October 20, is based on Yossi Ghinsberg’s bestselling memoir ”Jungle (Movie Tie-In Edition): A Harrowing True Story of Survival in the Amazon.” “Jungle’s” original script took more creative license than McLean wanted. So he and Ghinsberg personally steered it back to reality.
“[Yossi] and I sat in a room for a week and went through every single line of the script, and I asked him was this what really happened?” the director says. “Eventually we ripped out pages of the script and went straight back to the book.”
When filmmakers have such an incredible survival yarn to tell why embellish it?
McLean devotees can expect a few grisly moments that feel quite at home with the director’s canon. But one sequence didn’t make the final cut, even though Yossi himself endured it during his time in the Amazon jungle.
The young Israeli felt something small biting him, but he didn’t want to move from his secure sleeping place. Simply staying alive in the cruel environment sapped his strength.
So “he urinated himself,” McLean says, not realizing the salt in the fluid “attracted every single termite within 20 meters.”
He woke up the next morning covered by termites biting through the plastic he had wrapped himself in to sleep.
FAST FACT: Daniel Radcliffe denied a published report saying he existed on only a hard-boiled egg per day to prepare for ‘Jungle.’
Audiences won’t see that grisly true moment. What they’ll spot is a lead actor willing to push his body to the extreme for the sake of authenticity. Radcliffe wouldn’t eat for two days before shooting sequences where he was meant to look gaunt.
“He went all the way which was really inspiring,” he says. “This is a character study it’s really crucial that we cast amazing actors who do it for the right reason.”
McLean’s commitment to the horror genre, including the underrated 2007 gem “Rogue,” is undeniable. And he’s thrilled to see so many creative shockers coming our way.
“‘The Witch’ was a masterpiece,” he says, adding his affection for both the recent “Blair Witch” installment and 2014’s “It Follows.”
“There’s a new wave of horror filmmakers who are making interesting and artful movies. That to me is exciting. It makes the space a really cool place to work in.”