Experimental sound in Wolf Creek

Experimental sound in Wolf Creek
WARNING: This clip contains human suffering or death
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Kristy (Kestie Morassi) has escaped from the camp. She has been tortured and beaten, but she runs, without shoes, until she finds the road.

An old man stops to help her. While he fetches a blanket from the back of his car, we hear a shot. The next shot kills the old man.

Notes by Paul Byrnes


Additional notes on musical score

In this scene, we hear the closely-microphoned sound of Kristy's heavy breathing. The proximity of this breathing noise helps place the audience in her shoes, communicating the fear and horror she is experiencing.

Another means of building both suspense and a sense of disorientation is through the strategic positioning of ambient sounds – such as drones, musical swells and animal calls (the recurring magpie call).

The imagery draws on typical horror themes suggesting false hope – for example, the white lines on the road leading to civilisation and the approaching car which indicates help may be on its way. 

The soundtrack, however, never indicates that Kristy has a way out of this nightmare. 

More generally, François Tétaz's score starts tonal (that is, using conventional keys and harmony) but ends up sounding more dissonant and atonal, suggesting a transgressive transformation of the landscape.

The emptiness of the outback is conveyed through the sparseness of the music – much of which was created by using experimental techniques on traditional instruments: the flicking and hitting of an acoustic guitar, tapping and banging on the insides of a piano.

Tétaz also processes and places telephone wire recordings by the Australian sound artist Alan Lamb. These recordings were created by capturing chaotic and unpredictable wind resonances via the placement of contact microphones at varying intervals along great expanses of abandoned telephone wires. They are implemented at different intensities throughout Wolf Creek's score, regardless of whether wires are visibly apparent in the film's imagery.

They not only convey a uniquely Australian sound, but their unsettling, metallic and fluctuating tones (which become more present as the film's protagonists venture further inland), imply the landscape is active, observing, waiting.

Notes by Johhny Milner