Australia has proven itself to be a breeding ground for quality genre film. The expansion of tough, vast, and empty terrain and the historical conflict with the eradication of Indigenous Aboriginal culture at the hands of the British colonisers seems to have created a culture that makes for great horror.
But the Aussies also have a great sense of humour. Two Heads Creek, the latest film from Jesse O’Brien, is a horror comedy that pokes fun at the racist attitudes of white locals (in both the UK and Australia) and exposes their idiotic hypocrisy through a horror filter.
Polish siblings Norman (Jordan Waller) and Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) live in an unnamed British town and are trying to process the recent death of their mother. It is a vision of Britain defined by the post-Thatcher drab visuals of greyness, run-down streets, and a disdain for immigrants. Norman runs his mother’s Butcher shop in such one of these streets and is regularly heckled by dirty teenagers who throw faeces at the shop window amongst cries of ‘immigrants go home’. Annabelle however has no such familial loyalty; she has spent her life in pursuit of an acting career that has led her nowhere but a very lucrative laxative commercial.
A moment with some family friends during their mother’s wake and a rummage through her belongings suggest that the siblings are adopted and of actually of Australian descent, not Polish. Hoping that their birth mother is still alive the pair try to put aside their differences and head to the remote town of Two Heads Creek in Australia to (hopefully) find out their history.
Dropped off by an Aboriginal bus driver Apari (Gregory J. Fryer—the only indigenous person you’ll see the entire film), and welcomed by local patriotic tour guide Apple (Helen Dallimore), the siblings stay in the only hotel in the town, The Villagers Arms. Their dreams are dashed shortly after arrival after they are told that their mother is dead, and a funeral will be held for her on Australia Day.
Admittedly Two Heads Creek does take its time in getting to the ‘horror’ part of its horror comedy which might dissatisfy some fans. The film sets up each of the Two Heads Creek locals as their own personification of racist, bigoted stereotypes to much comedic effect. Jordan Waller (who plays Norman) also penned the script and it’s a smart one at that. The rhetoric spouted by Apple, husband Noah (Kevin Harrington) and son Eric (David Adlam, whose face is an absolute picture every single frame of this film) is not far from that you’d see in any Daily Mail or The Sun comments section. The Nigel Farage catchphrase of ‘take back control’ seen in Britain’s days of the Brexit campaign is amplified here through townsfolks chatter.
The horror is really kicked up a notch on Australia Day, a controversial holiday that many criticise as ignorant of the Aboriginal communities that were invaded to create the Australia we know today. The townspeople are hiding a dark secret and the appearance of an industrial sized met grinder in a nearby barn raises more than a few concerns as Norman and Anabelle doubt the legitimacy of the town’s appearance. Apple takes to the stage at their Australia Day celebrations in a side-splittingly funny karaoke rendition of the Skyhooks’ (ridiculously catchy) ‘Horror Movie’ and proves Dallimore to be the film’s stand out as this chaotic centrepiece unfolds with enough blood and gore to really cement the film as a splatter fest.
Even with politics aside, Waller and O’Brien’s work seeks humour in the details. Background visual gags are rife— the best being a subtle bottle of Chianti sat on a table when cannibalism talk arises. In fact, a lot of the political humour in the film is that subtle that the very people its seeking to poke fun at probably would not even realise its doing so, and that is even more hilarious.
Two Heads Creek handles the rise in nationalism with its tongue in its cheek. It’s smart and loaded with commentary to unpick. Whether it’s the Brits abusing European workers that keep their country running or the Aussies denying the Aboriginal roots of the soil they stand on, Waller and O’Brien tackle the topic with comedy that doesn’t feel exclusionary. The film never seeks to point the finger and place blame but uses the stupidity of its premise to provoke an exposé of ones own hypocrisy and internalised racism while still maintaining its outrageous levels of slapstick gore.
Two Heads Creek is available on VOD now
by Chloe Leeson
Chloë (she/her) is the founder of SQ. She is a costume designer and trainee teacher living in the North East of England. She thrives watching 90s Harmony Korine Letterman interviews and bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Stand by Me and Pan’s Labyrinth. Find her on Twitter @sqchloe and on Letterboxd here.