Two Heads Creek

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Two Heads Creek
"It's a playful, high spirited romp which has some pithy observations to make about modern societies but doesn't let them get in the way of the action." | Photo: Signature Entertainment

Humans are tribal by nature. It can be a source of joy; it also poses one of the biggest threats to our survival as a species as tensions develop between groups in an increasingly crowded world. Two Heads Creek opens with its focus on family as estranged siblings Norman (Jordan Waller) and Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) reunite at their mother's funeral, held in the butcher's shop that she loved and that Norman has now inherited, attended by a stream of Polish-speaking relatives whom Annabelle has no idea how to interact with. It soon shifts gears to show a group of local teenagers hurling anti-Polish abuse (and worse) at the shop - a scene that feels all the more absurd because we have just learned that the siblings are not in fact ethnically Polish at all. They were adopted from Australia when they were too young to remember. Having lost one mother, they set out to look for another in a land down under where the locals refer to them as poms.

At first sight, the titular Two Heads Creek doesn't look like the most promising of places. The locals leer from the sides of the dirt track that passes for a road. None of the buildings are fully vertical. But it does, at least, seem to be enthusiastic about receiving immigrants, most of whom have come from the Asia-Pacific region. The odd thing is that with the exception of the bus driver, who high tails it out of there as soon as he can, those seem to be the only brown faces around. What has happened to the immigrants who came here previously? And why do some of the locals seem anxious for Norman and Annabelle to go away?

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Given the nature of this film's publicity material - not to mention the established traditions of Outback horror - not much guesswork is required to figure it out. There are more mysteries here than meet the eye, however, and the siblings will need to work together to resolve them - or just to stay alive. The studiously inoffensive Norman, with his stuffed wombat and his lesbian hair, is no match for the wily townsfolk on his own, whilst Annabelle's tendency to pick fights can only get her so far. Luckily for them, they're arrived at a time when other schemes are in motion and the town is not as unified as it looks. Unluckily for them, they've arrived just a few days before the Australia Day feast.

Two Heads Creek supplies all the cheesy jokes and the lashings of gore that you'd expect from a horror comedy of its ilk, along with inventive means of murder, conspiracies, necrophilia and a very special mincing machine. It's a playful, high spirited romp which has some pithy observations to make about modern societies but doesn't let them get in the way of the action. Waller and Wilder have great chemistry and the bond between them helps to keep the audience onside, but we also see what the locals mean to one another, and a little of their humanity. With Norman taking a particular interest in one of the locals, escape stats to look more and more complicated.

It's easy to get it wrong with a story like this, making it too serious or too trivial, or stepping over the line between being entertainingly silly and being annoying. Director Jesse O'Brien keeps his balance well. It's clearly a film made with love, and there's a surprising warmth to the comedy which keeps it from becoming simply grotesque or grim. Though it won't be everyone's cup of Fosters, Two Heads Creek combines intelligence with a willingness to misbehave in a way that will leave many viewers smiling all day.

Reviewed on: 31 Aug 2020
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After their adoptive mother dies, a pair of twins move to Australia in search of their biological mother and stumble across a dark secret.

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