Experimental sound in Wolf Creek

Title:
Experimental sound in Wolf Creek
NFSA ID:
612751
Year:
2005
Category:
Access fees

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

 

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 Kirsty's shoes, communicating the fear and horror she is experiencing. Another way 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 (e.g. the recurring magpie noise). 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 suggests help is on its way. 

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

More generally, Francois Tétaz's score - which starts tonal, but then abandons tonality and ends up sounding more modal - focuses attention on the emptiness of the outback. Many of the sounds (including in the music) were created by using experimental techniques on traditional instruments. Such examples include the flicking and hitting of an acoustic guitar and the 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.

Additional notes by Johhny Milner

Production company:
True Crime Channel
Producer:
David Lightfoot
Director and writer:
Greg McLean
Music:
François Tétaz