Like many others, I have dreamed about visiting Australia for a long time. Even as I approach my 40s, it still has yet to happen. I’ve been to a lot of countries, at the rate of one or two trips a year, but I haven’t been to this continent yet, maybe because of the astronomical costs, because it’s pretty tricky to plan a trip there, and maybe as a result of the dangers. Australia is considered by many to be a scary place, perhaps even the most terrifying in the world. After all, it offers a combination of dangerous roads, predatory animals, and countless poisonous animals. Every few months, we see a viral video about what’s happening in Australia that looks like it came out of a horror and science fiction movie: for example, millions of giant spiders taking over a town.
For these reasons, Australian horror films have always seemed intriguing to me, and I assume other horror fans as well. Apart from the fact that most of them take place in Australia, one of the most prominent horror destinations in the world, there are quite a few excellent films here. In the following review, you’ll see the scariest or even best Australian horror films, from cult films to a recent hit.
Best Australian Horror Movies – Our Picks
Wolf Creek (2005)
“Wolf Creek” might sound like a nature film on National Geographic, and pretty intense one. But we’re not here to talk about nature, but a horror movie which, quite sadly, is based on a true story. The film focuses on three young guys who go on a trip to South Australia and intend to visit “Wolf Creek,” which presents unique landscapes. But the three ignored the recommendation never to drive in a horror movie, so surprisingly, their car stopped in the heart of the wilderness.
Fortunately, they meet a bus driver named Mick (the great John Jarrett), who seems warm-hearted. He offers them a ride to his camp, where he can repair the vehicle so they can continue their trip happily. Unfortunately, it turns out that Mick is the person you don’t want to meet in the middle of nowhere. He kidnaps and tortures them in cruel ways, which become cruel because, for a change, we manage to bond with the characters in a film that starts off a bit slow but may turn your stomach.
In 2013 came a reasonable sequel, and in 2016-2017 two seasons of a TV series – in all of them, Jarrett played the villain’s character. If that’s not enough, the third movie is currently at work, and you already know who will be the main star here.
Here is the trailer for the first “Wolf Creek” movie:
Black Water (2007)
You didn’t think we would do a review of good Australian horror movies and ignore the terrifying nature of the continent, with all the predatory creatures it contains, did you? “Black Water” is based on a true story in a continent where about two people die yearly from crocodile attacks. It may not sound like a huge number, but the film shows the fear involved in these situations.
Grace (Diana Glenn), her boyfriend Adam (Andy Rodoreda), and her younger sister Lee (Maeve Darmody) go on a trip to northern Australia, accompanied by a local guide (Ben Oxenbould). Very soon, their peace is disturbed when the boat capsizes, and the guide disappears. To their horror, they realize they have fallen victim to a crocodile attack, which does not intend to let go of them until the end. This film is far from perfect, but it is undoubtedly suspenseful, scary at times and puts us in the horror atmosphere that we sometimes associate with Australia.
In 2020, “Black Water: Abyss” was released, a standalone sequel that also takes place in the forests of Australia. Five friends arrive to explore a remote cave. The problem is that it starts to rain, the cave is flooded, and the friends find themselves stuck, unable to get out. Well, well, you already understood who comes to visit them at the cave, right?
The film is very average, so it’s hard to say it should be in any list of good Australian horror movies. But it satisfies those who like survival films against murderous animals and those who want to explore the world of Australian horror films.
The Loved Ones (2009)
We continue the review with “The Loved Ones,” which proves what many of the youth will be able to agree with: “Prom can be torture,” as the poster of the film declares. The general description of the plot may remind you of a movie from an entirely different genre: Lola “the princess” (the wonderful Robin McLeavy) invites a guy to the prom, and he refuses – partly because he has a girlfriend. But our Lola is not ready to take “no” for an answer. If it were a romantic comedy, we would see the girl’s amusing attempts to get the man’s attention until he realizes that he doesn’t really love his girlfriend and kisses the girl he rejected in the final scene, with a sound of cheesy music from the 90s at the background. In the horror version, Lola decides instead to do the next logical thing on the list: Kidnap the boy and torture him.
The film received excellent reviews (98% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes), and today it is considered by many to be a cult film. There is a blend of good acting, gore, thrills, and other surprises here, which create an impressive combination between a youth drama and a Torture Porn movie. that makes this bizarre movie enjoyable.
The Babadook (2014)
“The Babadook,” Jennifer Kent’s debut film, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and received rave reviews – quite rightly so because it is one of the finest and most profound horror films we have seen in the last decade. The plot is about a mother (the fantastic Essie Davis, in a performance that in a fair world would have earned her an Oscar nomination) who finds a “children’s” book in which a scary character named “Mr. Babadook” appears. She reads the book to her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Very quickly, they discover that unexplained things happen in the house related to that creature’s presence.
It may sound generic, but the result is excellent. Beyond the scary design of the figure dressed in a coat and wearing a hat, which resembles a person but includes claws, there is a lot of depth here. The film deals sensitively and convincingly with complex issues, such as loss and repression, and it stays with me even years after watching it. You won’t find cheap jumps here, but excellent characters and some scary and well-remembered scenes. The kind of movies that are fun to enjoy, and then try to read and understand all the meanings, hints, and analyses.
We were a bit confused about whether to include “Relic” in the list of best Australian horror movies. The main reason is that this intriguing psychological horror thriller is not a film for everyone. It may sound condescending, but there have been countless discussions in forums and Facebook groups dedicated to horror, with the division often between people who loved it a lot and those who couldn’t stand it. Yes, from those movies.
“Relic” was directed by Natalia Erika James, who also wrote the script with Christian White. It deals with a complex Australian family but with a painful subject that may be relevant to everyone. A mother (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter (Bella Heathcote) visit the mother/grandmother’s estranged daughter Edna (Rubyn Nevin, in a chilling role)—depending on whose point of view—to find out where she’s gone. They quickly discover that Edna is back, but this is only the beginning.
If you examine “Relic” as a horror film, you find that the result in the first part is slow and not too impressive, with quite generic scares. But if we manage the slow start and reach the second part, and especially the final scenes, we suddenly get a punch to the stomach. Without making spoilers, the film presents symbolic topics that are easy for us to ignore, such as aging and dementia, asks what is the place of family members in such cases, and shows that no one is immune.
Talk To Me (2023)
We decided to make the current review, to a large extent, thanks to a new Australian horror film that is already defined by many as the best of 2023. “Talk To Me” is an independent film by a pair of brothers who came from the realms of YouTube, which is their first film on the big screen. The film is receiving excellent reviews from critics so far (about 96% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes), creating a severe buzz among viewers. No only this may be one of the best Australian horror films ever, it also could be one we will all remember.
In short, the film is about a mysterious and somewhat cursed hand, which allows the person holding it and saying a specific sentence to communicate with the dead – and the friends surrounding him to make viral videos. One important rule will be broken at some point: you should only hold the hand for up to 90 seconds, especially if you are young and sober.
I was at the film’s premiere, and we will soon make a full review on this website. In the meantime, I will point out that this is an impressive horror film done in a significant way, emphasizing atmosphere and less on “cheap” scares. It includes some scenes that canto knock your head off (Oops). Even if “Talk To Me” is not a perfect film – for example, some problems at the script level- it will surely be a solid member of the list of the best horror films of 2023.