This review of Jesse O’brien’s Two Heads Creek may sound more like a social commentary on the current state of the world than an opinion about a horror-comedy...
...That is because underlying the film’s gimmicks and gore is a clear message that the true horror we face comes from the hate and division woven into the fabric of our culture. A prime example of this poignant humor occurs early on in the film when a white tour guide in Australia gives a speech to a group of tourists, saying “ This is a nation of immigrants, without you, or me, no one would be here.” The camera quickly pans to the unimpressed expression of the bus driver who happens to be an aboriginal man. It’s one of the many direct references to race and immigration that are spread throughout the film. It’s a great little moment that echoes an overarching sentiment of current affairs and, sadly, all of human history.
While news headlines and social media in the US are being consumed with stories of conflict and tragedy so intense that people feel they have no alternative other than to go out and protest during a global pandemic, Two Heads Creek tackles similar issues across two other continents. In its exaggerated way, it reminds us why the situation is so severe that people are risking their lives to stand up against a system that wants to carve us into categories and pit us against each other.
Two Heads Creek is a gory and ultimately fun flick, set deliberately in a post-Brexit world where animosity toward immigrant communities is not restricted. The first image shown to the audience is a sign that says “Keep England English. Get Out, Immigrants.” It then proceeds to a girl riding a bike towards a Polish sausage shop, where she hurls insults and literal crap at the building that has been spray-painted and tagged with words too unkind to print. There is an obvious message that whoever is inside is not wanted in the town. The person inside is one of our main protagonists, Norman (Jordan Waller), waiting for his Polish neighbors to visit and say their goodbyes to his recently passed mother, whose funeral is being held inside the shop that Norman has just inherited upon her passing.
Reverent and straightlaced Norman is soon joined by his much feistier twin sister Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder). A teary-eyed community member who has come to pay her respects tells the twins “she raised you as if you were her own,” coming as a shock to the twins since this is the only mother they have ever known. A quick investigation reveals their biological mother lives in Australia in a place called Two Heads Creek. With some persuasion from Annabelle, Norman decides to sell the business and together they trek to the Down Under. It is here that the adventure starts.
The opening sets a theme regarding the terrible ways people can view and treat those who aren’t like them. Two Heads Creek is a town that is somewhat of a tourist destination but, it is revealed, for a very specific set of people invited to visit. The quest to meet their mother quickly seems like a lost cause since they are warned to leave no sooner than they arrive and the home they believe to be their mothers is in a completely dilapidated state. From there, the village’s evil purpose is unveiled and things unwind in hilarious and graphic detail.
The ability to mix comedy and violence with an overarching social message is impressively scripted by Waller, who does a lot of the heavy lifting acting-wise as well. Even with all of its strengths, some of the comedic elements miss the mark - like a weird, gross subplot involving pigs that really doesn’t need to be there. When things do work - like just how strange all of the townsfolk feel from the get-go and the palpable unease of Norman and Annabelle - it is because of the strength of the acting from the supporting cast. For example, Stephen Hunter plays Clive, who is introduced in the airport and later joins the town as a member of the society. He has some of the best generally comedic elements in the film, such as his obsession with feng shui that is out of place given the setting, yet it comes back multiple times.
Eventually, the film leads to a bloody and hyper tense conclusion, but it never misses the chance for laughter. It is light on scares but definitely heavy on the gore and even more heavy on groin damage, which works effectively for a laugh but very quickly wears out its welcome. Even with its repetitive and sometimes unneeded carnage, it still excels at presenting a tale about humanity and how we need to get over our differences and focus on something more powerful. It’s also a tribute to the importance of family and, although this family is by no means normal, there is something cathartic about seeing the kids search for their true birth mother while bonding with each other. The post-credit scene sits unevenly with the theme, but even with the bumpiness of Two Heads Creek, I would certainly suggest it for a rental. I ask the viewer to look past the blood and the jokes to absorb the purpose of the somewhat heavy-handed messaging - There is a better way than how we currently live, and definitely a better way than Two Heads Creek (the village, not the film) presents.
Two Heads Creek is out On VOD and On-Demand June 23rd from The Horror Collective.
By Justin Drabek
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