TWO HEADS CREEK **** UK / Australia 2019 Dir: Jesse O’Brien. 85 mins
Here’s an inventively gory, genuinely funny horror comedy built on a foundation of broadly satirised Australian archetypes and Brexit-era British social conflict, with an emphasis on the racism inherent in both. Jordan Waller (who also wrote the screenplay) is a butcher of Polish origin facing both a sausage crisis and the relentless torments of xenophobic locals. Still living at the family home above the butcher shop, he reunites with his estranged twin sister (Kathryn Wilder) – the advertising face for a popular stool softener – and, after their mum’s wake, the siblings discover by chance that they were adopted. To meet their real mum, they head to the Australian town of Two Heads creek, one of Australia’s first carbon neutral communities – and seemingly a hub for immigrants.
Loveable loser Waller is the heart and soul of this picture, as a series of ominous discoveries (local haunts like the “Second Hands Shop”, bottles of lube inside hollowed-out Bibles, disturbing stew) lead to the discovery of the town’s secret, involving a Made-In-China machine named Big Boy 3000 and the machinations of the Australian government to combat “undesirable outsiders”. As writer, Waller has lots of fun with throwaway one-liners, Monty Python references (“It’s only a flesh wound!”) and gags at the expense of Australian culture: lethal boomerangs, CROCODILE DUNDEE, NEIGHBOURS quiz games and even a Rolf Harris gag.
Underneath it all is a grim lament about pervasive xenophobia and the inexorable rise of the Far Right – but, most significantly, it’s an often hilarious throwback to the early films of Peter Jackson. Director Jesse O’Brien smartly saves the most outrageous stuff until the final third so the unravelling narrative pays off with a barrage of beheadings, eye-pokings, severed dicks and cricket bat fatalities. The protagonists are appealing and it has real heart – alongside a lot of quote-worthy dialogue, the best of which might be “Last time i checked, i haven’t made Ragu from human arse!”
Review by Steven West