Two Heads Creek, 2019.
Directed by Jesse O’Brien.
Starring Kerry Armstrong, Kathryn Wilder, Gary Sweet, and Stephen Hunter.
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.
The typically scuzzy charm of Aussie horror is out in full force in this gore-soaked satire from Down Under, which while perhaps taking a little too long to get to the red stuff, proudly wears its frustrated politics on its sleeve.
The film begins with siblings Norman (Jordan Waller) and Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) attending the funeral of their Polish mother, only to discover that they’re in fact adopted – which, given their plummy Brit accents, isn’t terribly surprising. They soon enough discover a postcard suggesting their birth mother resides in an Australian outback town, Two Heads Creek, and upon arriving there to track her down come face-to-face with some less-than-helpful locals.
From minute one, it’s clear that Jesse O’Brien’s (Arrowhead) film has more than blood-letting on its mind; one of the first things we see during the UK-set prologue is a “Take England back!” flier, moments before Norman and Annabelle are subjected to a barrage of abuse for their heritage.
If Two Heads Creek broadly broaches a number of socially pressing subjects, it’s immigration and xenophobia which are attacked most stridently. It’s likely no coincidence that the bulk of the story takes place in Australia, a country with famously strict policies on immigration.
And while much of the comedic through-line is defined by double-underlining stereotypes – of course, there’s plenty of XXXX beer on display here – there is at least an equal opportunities feel to the whole shebang. Waller’s script takes to task racists, the politically correct, and even vegans with a near-equal enthusiasm, before more overtly engaging with bigger political issues in act three.
To spoil the movie’s exact conceit wouldn’t really be fair – beyond the typicality of two out-of-towners facing off against murderous locals – though it’s a shame the script doesn’t feel the urge to push its satire in an angrier direction. Clearly, the desired vibe is that of goofy fun with a light sprinkling of social commentary re: prejudice, though there is a satisfying-yet-brief subplot which boldly engages with white Australia’s treatment of its indigenous people.
Even when the local banter begins to feel a tad tired, the pic is kept afloat by a trio of memorable performances; Waller and Wilder are well-matched as the demure brother and self-actualised sister, while Helen Dallimore damn-near steals the show as the busty, chirpy tour guide Apple.
O’Brien’s filmmaking certainly passes the competency test, though gore-hounds may be left dismayed that almost all of the action is saved up for the third reel. At this point it certainly delivers the expected – between meat grinders and a couple of mutilated genitals – though without much in the way of sustained suspense, the first hour really feels quite mild.
And as gleefully bloody as the movie’s back-end undeniably is, it struggles when striving for genuine poignancy in the final stretch, though thankfully doesn’t labour the point enough for it to become obnoxious or pandering.
This amusing horror from Down Under doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but benefits from its punchy social commentary and grisly third act.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.