TWO HEADS CREEK
“Two Heads Creek” is a new feature-length Horror/Comedy, Written by Jordan Waller (who also stars) and Directed by Jesse O’Brien (Arrowhead). The film follows Norman, a meek butcher (played by Waller) and his twin sister Annabelle, a struggling actress (Kathryn Wilder) who both decide to up and leave their unsociable existence in a post- Brexit Britain in the hopes of tracking down their birth mother said to be holed up in the small country town of Two Heads Creek in Australia. Upon arrival, the siblings are met with a mixed reception from the locals and they quickly discover that the town might be hiding a dark secret. The film also stars Gary Sweet (TV’s “Mystery Road”), Helen Dallimore (House Husbands), Stephen Hunter (The Hobbit), Kerry Armstrong (TV’s “Neighbours”), and David Adlam.
I first heard about Two Heads Creek around this time last year, and in fact, wanted to catch a one-off screening of it at Australia’s very own “Monster Fest” (a local festival for the macabre movie lover). In the end, a clash or two in my schedule that weekend prevented me from doing so, but none the less here we are almost twelve months on and I finally got to see it thanks to the modern means of streaming. So Two Heads Creek is horror/comedy madness that takes place in small town Australia. I think these types of isolated locations can serve as a perfect backdrop for stories in which characters are either trying to find themselves or someone else. If you’re a seasoned viewer of independent films, you’ll likely deduce from the outset that O’Brien’s film has a much higher production value than a lot of its counterparts. Production design is impressive with each of the sets having that “lived in” feeling. The film opens with some creative animated credits accompanied by a great indie track. Nothing appeals to me or wins me over more than a team of people who actually care about what they’re doing – as is the case with O’Brien and his cast/crew. DP, Samuel Baulch’s cinematography has no right to be this good given his limited amount of experience on feature films. The camera is almost always on the move but usually in the subtlest of ways, the shot choices are diverse, and there’s a series of effective quick cuts (usually for comedic approach) placed perfectly throughout. Credit should also be given to editor, Digby Hogan for cutting this thing together wonderfully.
In addition to quality camera work, Two Heads Creek incorporates a quirky Danny Elfman (Tim Burton’s composer) style score courtesy of Ryan Elliot Stevens. I found myself listening intently to the tonal shifts and the layers within it, and although that’s not something you should probably be doing, I couldn’t help it. It’s an offbeat modulation for two-thirds of the film, but when the third act rolls around Stevens introduces the digeridoo and a number of percussive strikes that are befitting of the films horror element. Sharp sound design and a couple of songs that can only be described as “Aussie staples”, complete what’s just a great mix of music. Speaking of great, this little ensemble of battlers deliver on consistently solid performances over the course of the film. Waller seems right at home displaying that sort of aloofness of Norman’s, Wilder is as witty as they come and appears to be channeling the all too proper likes of Sophie Turner’s “Sansa Stark” (Game Of Thrones). Dallimore’s overly enthusiastic “Apple” makes for a fun watch, so to her “pushover” beau in Noah (played by Kevin Harrington). In fact, this entire cast have their moment to shine – and they more than do. Whether it be Don Bridges spewing profanity and showing utter disdain as “Uncle Morris” (haha), Stephen Hunter’s security guard “Clive” and his methodically slow ways in the interrogation scenes, or even Kent Lee as a tourist learning his “Australianisms” – all of these actors are funny without trying to be, and that’s the sign of great writing.
While I’m on the writing, Waller appears to have not only tapped into what makes us iconic Aussies us, but he seems to actually get it – and therefore the result feels sincere. He brings that dry and witty approach we know and love from the English but injects it into comedic gags that are relevant to our culture and lives. The opening scenes at the butchers in the UK kicks things off on a funny note, and so by the time we get to Australia the tone has already been set. The airport scene with Clive referring to “blades and pingas” got me going (haha) and a steady stream of one liners like “She’s cactus”, “Yeah,nah”, and “Starkers” (which is technically English) kept me chuckling throughout. The highlight, comedically speaking, comes in the form of a funeral scene where everyone delivers their best work and it’s hilarious. The musical timings, the speech, the power point presentation, and the burial are all sure to get even the most jaded of viewers lol’ing. The vast majority of Two Heads Creek is pretty low-key and certainly not something you’d describe as action packed. That said, things escalate come the third act and we’re treated to a big gnarly action sequence on the streets of the town. No real spoilers, but what I will say is that it ends in carnage and bloodshed. The practical blood and gore fx are impressive and there’s two or three quite graphic kills in the aforementioned sequence – the blood sprays in a big way and it’s good fun.
Most of the minor gripes I had with Two Heads Creek weren’t to do with anything shown on-screen, but more a couple of missed opportunities with things that weren’t fully taken advantage of, i.e. the cricket bat and boomerang. They’re both examples of two very “aussie” items that unfortunately weren’t quite used in the way I thought they were going to be. Someone is hit with a bat but not in the way I’d hoped for, and what’s more is there wasn’t a cricket themed one-liner to accompany it (this being the exact type of movie to do something like that). Same goes for the boomerang. Toward the end of the film we’re clearly shown that it has spikes through it that would no doubt do some damage, yet the kill that we see it used in is depicted in a wide shot and nowhere near as memorable or gory as it rightly should’ve been. I also noticed a couple of glimpses of what were clearly fake props on display during the big fight. From a creative license point of view I didn’t love the decision to burden Gary Sweet with a German accent. It comes across as uneasy for him, resulting in a few patchy scenes. The musical number was another choice that clashed a bit with the idea of the “Australia Day Feast”.
Two Heads Creek is without a doubt the best local Horror/Comedy I’ve seen in years. It’s the perfect blend of something like our very own “100 Bloody Acres” and a dark English comedy like “Inbred”. The production value is sublime, the set dressings have great attention to detail, and the location really works. The cinematography is proficient, the edit comes together well, and Ryan’s score is extremely engaging. All of the actors are very funny individuals, who on top of that deliver entertaining performances. Waller’s writing is crafty and consistently funny, O’Brien’s direction clear from the outset, and the end result is a balanced slice of good gory times. Two Heads Creek is now available on multiple streaming platforms and you can check out the official trailer below – I highly recommend you do!
Two Heads Creek – 8/10