Two Heads Creek. 2020.
Directed by Jesse O’Brien.
Starring Kerry Armstrong, Kathryn Wilder, Gary Sweet, Stephen Hunter, Jordan Waller, Kevin Harrington, and Helen Dallimore.
A timid butcher and his drama queen twin sister quit the hostile confines of post- Brexit Britain and adventure to Australia in search of their birth mother, but the seemingly tolerant townsfolk are hiding a dark, meaty secret.
Jesse O’Brien’s Two Heads Creek yearns to be in the same Australian horror-comedy conversation as 100 Bloody Acres, but – oddly enough – I’ve seen funnier cannibal circumstances. We take pitch-black midnighters met with rapturous laughter for granted. To balance dread and doofiness is far from an effortless task. Humor is subjective, which should ensure Two Heads Creek receives divisive praise or panning dependent on individual funnybones. For my taste? Jordan Waller’s nationalistic commentary fails to achieve the amusingly macabre stylings of films like 100 Bloody Acres, Fresh Meat, or Cannibal: The Musical. A bit bland and underseasoned for my liking.
Norman (Jordan Waller) and his sister Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) learn at their mother’s funeral that she isn’t their biological parent. Their birth mother, Mary Pearce (Kerry Armstrong), lives at an Australian address within Two Heads Creek. The siblings ditch post-Brexit Britain and their inherited Polish butcher’s shop for an Australian family reunion, only to be greeted at Two Heads Creek with news of Mary’s death. Locals like Hans (Gary Sweet) and Apple (Helen Dallimore) attempt to push the brother-sister outsiders from their backwoods shanty-town of a community, which is said to be a starter city for immigrants. Of course, there’s more than “meats” the eye upon further investigation.
It’s a Deliverance-lite fish-out-of-water scenario, given how Norman trades cleaning thrown feces from his chop-shop’s windows for outright dilapidation and mystery stews. Structures constructed from junkyard scraps define the architectural “chicness” of Two Heads Creek, overseen by yokel townsfolk who are one DNA molecule away from primordial sludge. Waller’s injected political satire takes advantage of lost-in-time provinces, as such characters gleefully “take care” of Australia’s immigration “problem” through devourable means. Those in charge are caricatured as barbaric, slobbish, and, most importantly, devolved when it comes to cultural acceptance. Enter Norman, Annabelle, and two unexpected allies who fight back against closemindedness with sharpened cleavers.
It’s a cavemanesque shakedown of non-acceptance, leading to an “Australia Day” celebration that revels in gratuitous brutality. Worth mentioning is the gore factor of Two Heads Creek, which sprays bloodstreams from bodies like pressurized faucets. Culinary preparations are unveiled, including one mighty human-sized meatgrinder that messily churns out a slurry of bones and flesh. Violence emasculates through multiple instances of testicular torture and never holds back when it comes to dispatching those still hypnotized by white supremacy’s despicableness. Limbs detach and there are beheadings aplenty, but visual punishment is always more impressive than fight choreography that’s not as “emphatic,” we’ll say.
While my appreciation for practical effects leads to endearment though carnage, Two Heads Creek barely earns a jokester’s snicker. It’s just not my cup o’ swill, frankly. Villagers always intend to oversell their repugnance, never questioning whether their intentions skew bias, while Norman’s relationship with Annabelle is about competition. Their motivation for finding mama at Two Heads Creek quickly spirals into a tribalistic sense of survival. City slickers juxtapose against monsters who use ritualistic reasons to explain their unsavory dietary habits. Throwaway gags include references to Beastiality, Tweedle-Dee incompetence (Eric the town’s jester, played by David Adlam), and being able to chug beer “like a man.” It’s all rhetoric that permeates small-town cultures (exaggerated for effect), should appear appropriately foolish, and yet laughs are anything but mile-a-minute. Again, all comedy is subjective. It just so happens that my problems here all stem from a lack of balance between horror and comedy.
Two Heads Creek chars, broils, and barbeques its way through a horror feast caked in blood, but with an unfortunate side effect: mundanity. Performances are all tuned to a specific frequency that’ll work comedically for some but leave others with a sense of dead-air slapstick silence. Do I appreciate an excellent boiling buttocks sight cue? Absolutely! Does this bushland journey into the morally repugnant ever rise above a base-value attack against proud boys protecting their homeland from “invaders?” Sadly not, even with additives like barbed boomerangs and massive man-mincing machines. It’s the type of film that sounds like primo Donato content upon tagline inspection, yet execution sings a different tune. Hopefully, you’ll hear a more pleasing chorus of cannibalistic screams.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Matt spends his after-work hours posting nonsense on the internet instead of sleeping like a normal human. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be safe (beers are allowed/encouraged). Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd (@DoNatoBomb).