REVIEW: Two Heads Creek (2019) – FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition

dir. Jesse O’Brien.

Opening in a British council estate, the signs of ugly nationalism are immediately evident. From St George flags to flyers exhorting “Immigrants Go Home” it’s an amped up tableaux emblematic of the toxicity that continues to blight our national discourse.

In the middle of this maelstrom of hate is Norman (Jordan Waller), a Polish migrant running his mum’s butcher after her death and cleaning the dog shit off the windows when hurled by racist teens. At the funeral a relative lets slip that him and sister Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) were adopted: a revelation that sends the siblings to Australia to try and track down their birth mother at her hometown of Two Heads Creek. But the hick townsfolks appear to be hiding something. And what is it with the bus loads of pan-Asian migrants being shipped in?

O’Brien’s social commentary isn’t just on the nose: it punches you in the face and smashes you to the floor. This is a good thing of course, given the exaggerated times we live in: the narrative of tabloid xenophobia is so histrionic, so enlarged to almost comic proportions that it feels that the only proportionate response is something equally hysterical.

And hysterical it is. There is no nuance in the ensuing theatre of blood: just broad laughs and excessive gore, as if Edgar Wright were remaking The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) for Private Eye. It’s not always successful, but there is a certain catharsis in seeing the woeful state of British and Australian national identity being played out as a pantomime of meat. Waller in particular is one to watch, both as writer and actor, his note-perfect portrayal of Norman recalling the understated charm of Tom Hiddleston, a gentle guy in a sea of craziness.

The result plays to the converted, and won’t win anyone over from far-right rhetoric. But if you’re looking for a Raimi-esque post-Brexit satire then chuck this one on the barbie.

Tim Coleman

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