Two Heads Creek - 2019
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
It’s hard to make a movie in Australia. Especially a genre film. This is a fact that some of us just have to deal with. So when an Australian film happens to make it all the way to the cinema, and it’s not another sequel to Red Dog, and it’s not another adaptation of a book you might have read in high school... it’s an outback black comedy filled with gore and karaoke, I can’t help but get excited.
With my favourite Australian films, Undead and Australiens, both being low budget genre films shot in Brisbane, my expectations were high for Two Heads Creek. I promise that the fact that I’m also from Brisbane does not affect my feelings for movies made in Brisbane; Inspector Gadget 2 and Queen of the Damned were both shot here, and my feelings for them range from “meh” to “why?”.
I’m surprised that this is the second film in a row that I’ve reviewed that is ultra-critical of the #Brexit lot. I’m not surprised that people are critical of Brexit, just that an ultra-violent slapstick based in the Outback is...but boy is it. The best horror films play on some of our base fears, with a lot of zombie films playing up the fear of the foreign and the unknown. Two Heads Creek turns it around to something I’m personally far more afraid of: ultra patriotic Australians with “love it or leave it” bumper stickers, unironically driving their Japanese made cars. Where other Australian horror films like Wolf Creek really play with the fear of the unknown in the Australian outback, Two Heads Creek doubles down on this all too common attitude, even bringing our xenophobic government into the plot for good measure.
Maybe it’s the leftie in me, but seeing the way they deal with anti-immigration is oddly satisfying. And maybe that means I should be put on some sort of watch-list, but if my Google History hasn’t already done that, I’m doing something wrong.
It's about Polish people living in post-Brexit England, being told to f*ck off, finding out they're born in Australia, so they go to Australia and are told to f*ck off. Also, cannibalism.
Two Heads Creek is a comedy first and foremost, and as such, the story can be quite stupid at times. A common issue with horror films is “idiot plotting”, where the story only continues due to the characters' stupidity. This is also usually a staple for a comedy, but I honestly could not for the life of me figure out if the actions taken by characters are stupid for the sake of comedy, or for horror, or because no one thought about it too hard. I want to give it the benefit of the doubt, because when it is funny, it is incredibly over the top and hilarious. The moments of idiot plotting in this didn’t seem deliberate. But they have to be, right? They just didn’t do it in a way that told me it was deliberate. I feel like this is a me issue, more than anything, but these moments just don’t feel cohesive.
The pacing is also a little off, but very rarely. The opening drags, and then right before the build to the climax, it drags again. I get it, these are both exposition dumps; we need to know the story and sometimes that means dropping a load of information at once. They try to be funny with it and succeed in that measure, but it still feels like a false start and an awkward lull at the end.
Being low budget either has one of two effects on the technical side of a film: either everything is simultaneously bland and janky, or the filmmaker is forced to be more creative to hide the seams. In this film, seams may show, but effort has been put in. And I’m so grateful for that. John Carpenter once said that anamorphic lenses are the cheapest special effect, and seeing the way they utilise that here is so much fun. Zooms, dollies and (especially) dutch tilts are enhanced in ways that can’t be emulated, and cinematographer Samuel Baulch, director Jesse O'Brien and key grip Dillan Harmer use this to their advantage every chance they get. I’ve always said that the greatest test for a cinematographer is to shoot an old Queenslander, and Baulch beats that test with flying colours (literally at one point).
Aurally, everything is spot on. Also, you can never have enough Skyhooks, so top marks there. There’s one moment with a meat pie that made me very uncomfortable, but I get it, it’s part of the fun. I just… gross… I was fine with the cannibalism, but meat pie sounds? Gross.
All of the main actors appear to do their own stunts, which is really where the budget starts to show. With months of training and practice, Keanu Reeves is able to do some amazing stuff, but judging from the outcome of a certain epic fight scene, I don’t believe they had months of practice. The editing team have tried their best to save it. Speed ramps are inexplicably common throughout the film and are really distracting at times. Just having them in a fight scene would’ve worked fine. Ultimately, it’s up to you: if you allow it, the jankiness of the stunts can let the third act down for you.
With the exception of the two lulls in pace, this movie is fun through and through. Any movie that has a Skyhooks karaoke break where someone gets eaten alive, gets a pass on all technical aspects. But the movie looks great too, so what a bonus! Some jokes are a little obvious, but it doesn’t make them any less funny. When it gets gory, boy does it ever get gory. It might not be to Peter Jackson levels, but it gets dang close.
With a pretty limited release in Australia, it’s kind of upsetting that more aren’t seeing this film. I’d argue that this is one to see in the cinema, not only because it supports a struggling film industry, but it’s just a blast. Get a group of friends together and go see this while you still can. If you wait too long and you have to see it via a streaming service or something, feel the shame that you didn’t see it in the cinemas, before inviting a group of friends over to watch it together.