Frightfest 2020 review: Two Heads Creek
Splatter meets social commentary in Jesse O’Brien’s smart horror comedy
Written by Sarah Dobbs
When a couple of unsuspecting siblings stray into a dilapidated town that looks like its clocks stopped in 1974, you kind of know what’s coming next. No horror fan worth their salt would accept a dinner invitation from any of the inhabitants of Two Heads Creek, especially if an unspecified ‘meat’ stew was on the menu. But writer Jordan Waller and director Jesse O’Brien have a lot more up their sleeves than just a knowing nod to classic exploitation movies. Two Heads Creek is a riotous social commentary that’s just silly enough to make a serious point.
Following the death of their adoptive mother, twins Norman (Waller) and Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) head down under to seek their birth mother, leaving behind a hostile post-Brexit Britain and a failing family business in search of a new home. When they arrive, though, they find they’ve lost another mum (Kerry Armstrong) and the locals really aren’t keen on having them around…
Striking the right balance of horror and comedy can be tricky, but Two Heads Creek makes it look easy. The absurdity and the awfulness increase in direct proportion to one another, so you’ll find yourself laughing at a funeral and cringing at a party, shuddering at a reunion and cheering at a massacre. Though the visual style is cartoonish and the dialogue overly stylised, the film’s emotional core feels solid, and the targets of its most biting satire are well-chosen. Both anti-immigrant and colonialist sentiments are skewered – it’s no accident that the twins arrive while the town is planning its Australia Day celebrations, after all – while genuine niceness wins the day.
Some viewers will likely find some of the comedy too broad, or feel that the film’s message is hammered home a little too hard. But it’s difficult to fault a film with intentions this good and silliness this joyful – the climactic battle is eye-poppingly gory in the best possible way, and if you don’t at least get a kick out of town matriarch Apple (Helen Dallimore) karaoking a cover of Skyhooks’ 1974 hit Horror Movie, you might need to recalibrate your internal fun-o-meter.
It might never become as iconic as the movies it references, and probably won’t get as many essays written about it, either, but Two Heads Creek is nonetheless a timely, funny, and improbably sweet movie. If its worst crime is that it’s too lightweight, or that it’s too insistent about its beliefs, that seems a small price to pay for a dose of much-needed optimism in the midst of the unending bleakness of 2020.
Director: Jesse O’Brien
Screenwriter: Jordan Waller
Cast: Jordan Waller, Kathryn Wilder, Kerry Armstrong, Helen Dallimore
Distributor: Signature Entertainment
Running time: 82 minutes