In case you missed it, I talked with the director of this film, Jesse O’Brien, and that interview can be found here.
Directed by: Jesse O’Brien. Starring: Jordan Waller, Kathryn Wilder, Kerry Armstrong. Runtime: 1h 25 min. Released: September 7, 2020 (in the U.K.)
Norman (Jordan Waller, also the screenwriter on the film) and his twin sister Anna (Kathryn Wilder) are immigrants living in the United Kingdom. After their mother’s death, they find a letter from their actual birth mother, Mary (Kerry Armstrong), and they set out to find her in a small town in Australia, the titular Two Heads Creek. Once there, they learn more about their background and realize they are in a town full of cannibals.
Directed by Jesse O’Brien and written by Jordan Waller, the film strikes a great balance between its comedy, lite horror and social commentary. The commentary feels inspired by a post-Brexit world as it talks about the immigration problem and the intolerance towards it, and the way it’s incorporated here is hilarious. It never feels in your face and while it’s never exactly subtle, it exists within the screenplay without ever bogging down, and the satirical edge makes the dialogue feel sharper.
The commentary is so universal that the only thing that feels specific to the U.K. and Australia is this film’s humour. It’s usually damn funny, especially a line where the townsfolk reveal the Big Boy 3000, a meat grinding device. “It’s made in China, but we won’t hold that against her,” says Clive (Stephen Hunter).
Waller seems to have written the Australian aspects of the film accurately, with the “yeah nah” scene where Uncle Morris (Don Bridges) is teaching the immigrants Australian slang in prep for Australia Day. There are some things that feel specifically Australian, like the use of Normie Rowe songs on the soundtrack – but it makes the soundtrack more unique and I was hooked from the opening animation and Rowe’s Tell Him I’m Not Home on the soundtrack.
The chemistry between Jordan Waller and Kathryn Wilder is great, by the way. They feel like twins and there are some nice beats between them, especially the “razem” phrase they share, which means “family sticks together” in Hebrew (I think). Their dynamic is great and the family aspect is a heart of the film, which I bought into. The characters are distinct from each other, Norman timid and Anna outspoken since she’s an actress. This opposition of their personalities is shown best when Norman doesn’t properly chug a beer (Noah says “it goes down like a fat kid on a seesaw”) and then Anna chugs it in one go.
The supporting characters in the town are also great, and the town itself is perfect. Every house fits the vibe here. The people of Two Heads Creek are just so strange, from Apple (Helen Dallimore) and her portrait of her eating a chicken leg, to her son Eric (David Adlam), who greets them at the town’s bar by telling them reception for the hotel is across the room, and he quickly meets him there. It’s this dry humour that worked for me and made me think of the quirky characters in Edgar Wright’s satires like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
They are strange, and it’s fun as an audience knowing that these characters are cannibals long before Norman and Anna do. They just think the town is weird and when Norman asks if Anna if she thinks something strange is going on, she simply replies, “No, I just think they’re Australian.”
I generally thought every character here had something to do, even Clive. He starts out in the airport and comes to the town in time for Australia Day and it’s funny how well he immediately blends in with the group, and I honestly felt like he was in the town the entire time. I think that was the main problem for me, is that while he’s great I honestly didn’t think the difference between him and Apple’s husband Noah (Kevin Harrington) was that distinct.
I found so much of this film funny that I could just keep using quotes from the film, but I’ll leave the rest as surprises. There are so many good ones here and it’s a big reason why I watched this with a smile on my face for most of it. Even when the film slows in pacing as Norman snoops around to find out what’s really going on in the town, the dialogue kept it lively.
Then, the gore really begins when Apple sings Skyhooks’ Horror Movie and the Cannibal Karaoke starts. It’s a well-directed scene and it’s so much fun when the guts start flying and we see the horror the film promises from the start as it gets into the Ozploitation, too. The blood-soaked finale doesn’t disappoint, either. This is when Jesse O’Brien’s visual flair comes into play, too, in one great shot where a weapon is thrown at the camera.
There are nice twists and turns throughout and in general, Two Heads Creek just surprises with its comedy. When it comes to the actual horror, there’s never an intention to scare audiences. Even when the film threatens to throw jump scares out there, it’s used for a comedy bit. The film’s just campy fun and while it isn’t scary, it’s still a bloody good time.