Two Heads Creek (2019)

Two Heads Creek first published by VODzilla.co

“Horror movie right there on my TV”, run the lyrics to Australian rock band Skyhooks’ 1975 hit Horror Movie, heard three times (including a wildly choreographed karaoke version) over the course of Two Heads Creek. The truth is, much of the horror in Jesse O’Brien’s feature really is of the “ripped from the headlines” variety, reflecting issues we see on the news everyday – although that bitter pill is sugared by comedy which is often broader than the accents of these grotesque characters.

The politics are there from the start, as, against the backdrop of open hostility to foreigners in Brexit-happy Slough, emasculated butcher Norman (Jordan Waller, also the screenwriter) and his twin sister Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) – a vegan actress – must face the double whammy of their Polish mother’s death, and of the news that she was not in fact their real mother at all. So they fly off to remote Two Heads Creek in Queensland, in search of their lost mother Mary Pearce (apparently named after one of the prominent Dreamlanders of John Waters – in keeping with the film’s hyperbolically campy tone). At first this rural backwater appears to be the polar opposite of insular Britain: for the quaint denizens of Two Heads Creek welcome busloads of (Asian) immigrants with open arms. Yet the sibling tourists will discover not only their own messy legacy,  but also a meat-loving village that is a microcosm of White Australia’s worst qualities – and that harbours some very dark culinary secrets.  

“This country is fucked”, Annabelle will conclude – although one of the joys of Two Heads Creek, when it is not riffing on the big knives of Crocodile Dundee (1986), the suspicious barbecue of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), the errant mother love of Psycho (1960), the “nice chianti” of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and the family revelations of the Star Wars saga, is the complementary (but barely complimentary) common ground that it finds between Aussies and ‘Pommy bastards’: both loving cricket, both oppressive of Indigenous populations, both deeply xenophobic. Ultimately the films wavers between the comic rural slaughter of 100 Bloody Acres (2013) and satire of Antipodean bigotry in Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek 2 (2013). “Anyone see a right wingnut?” asks one of the locals as he tries to repair the town’s second-hand meat-grinder ‘the Big Boy 3000’ after it breaks down. In fact rightwing nuts are everywhere to be seen here, as Two Heads Creek skewers the horrific absurdities of anti-immigrant politics, both Up Over and Down Under. Meanwhile one of the film’s running jokes is that, despite all the masculine posturing on display, these families are essentially matriarchies, with weak men always being outclassed and outdone by much stronger women. This is truly a tale of butchers, botchers and ‘total bitches’ – and you bet it ends in an Australia Day massacre. 

Strap: Jesse O’Brien’s carnivorous horror comedy skewers both English and Australian xenophobia.

Anton Bitel