Two Heads Creek is now available to rent, stream or buy.
Good horror/comedies are quite rare, with many struggling to manage the interface between gore, comedy, and cutting social discussion or satire. Thankfully Two Heads Creek is one of those rare gems that shines; its gloriously dark script, energetic delivery, and sublime performances dovetailed with a nuanced discussion on nationalism, BREXIT and right-wing politics. Here its screenplay joyously embraces the humour of The League of Gentlemen, Shaun of the Dead and the horror of The Hills Have Eyes while never losing sight of the need to create its own unique style.
After the death of their British/Polish mother, who ran a butcher’s shop in the heartlands of BREXIT Britain, Norman (Jordan Waller) and his thespian sister Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) are attempting to look to their future. Norman steps back into the butcher’s shop, his sausage-making skills decidedly ropey as he attempts to keep the business running. While Annabelle just wants to sell the shop, get out of town and continue with her acting career.
As Norman holds the wake of his mother amidst a disaster zone of meaty morsels, a strange phone call catches him off guard, a reverse charge call from Australia where the caller hangs up after asking for his mum. Initially, Norman thinks no more of the mysterious call as he once again cleans dog shit from the butcher’s shop window thrown by the racist BREXIT-loving locals. However, when Norman and Annabelle head home to clear out their mum’s belongings, a deep family secret emerges; they were adopted! And their birth mother is now living in the small town of Two Heads Creek, Australia. This mystery gives them the only excuse they need to sell the shop and travel to Australia in search of the truth. However, as they arrive in Oz and board a beat-up bus for the mysterious and isolated outback town, both siblings are unaware of the horror that awaits them.
Every aspect of the crazy, ingenious, wild ride that ensues is beautifully crafted, from the soundtrack through to the mayhem of the small dusty Oz town and its odd inhabitants. Director Jesse O’Brien keeps proceedings fast-paced as the blood begins to fly. But it’s the devilishly sharp screenplay that elevates Two Heads Creek above and beyond the standard comedy horror. Jordan Waller expertly weaves dark comedy with current social fears as he stuffs xenophobia and nationalism into an industrial-sized meat grinder. I recently caught up with Jordan to chat about horror, sausages, nationalism and comedy.
NB – I loved Two Heads Creek, but I have to admit I also have a somewhat twisted sense of humour! How would you describe your sense of humour, and what comedies have and continue to inspire you?
JW – I, too, have a dark, sadistic, peri-psychopathic sense of humour. But we can forgive ourselves that, for jokes need victims. And as long as you’re punching up rather than down – something of which I was very conscious in the making of this film – I think humour has a brilliant capacity to do something more than merely entertain. A real hero for me in this respect is Julia Davis – she has a midas touch when it comes to dark humour because her jokes are sadistic but properly targeted. She’s not overtly political because she’s cleverer than me – her gift is the ability to make you fall in love with bad people. I admire that.
NB – How long did it take for Two Heads Creek to progress from page to screen? And were there any challenges along the way?
JW- It took years! I think I started writing the thing the day of the Brexit referendum result, and if you imagine what a prolonged and tedious process that’s been, you get a sense of what it takes to get a little film off the ground. It was originally set in Norfolk – the capital of British inbreeding – but a circuitous path of money, chance encounters and enthusiastic locals saw it made years later in a tiny outback village in the middle of Queensland. Fortunately, Australians are just as racist and inbred as we are.
NB- The movie has a lot to say about xenophobia and nationalism, its cannibalism figurative of how humans eat each other through fear and hate. Lacing these big social themes into a comedy/horror must have been a challenge.
JW – It would have been a lot easier to write had you been there with me because I couldn’t have expressed the themes more intelligibly myself. In truth, it wasn’t a great challenge because it wasn’t greatly subtle – I wanted something big, idiotic and on the nose because that best reflects the bigots I was targeting.
NB – What was the first horror movie you ever saw?
JW- It was Silence of the Lambs – and I must have been about eleven years old. My mothers were not aware that I was watching it; otherwise, they’d have been deeply concerned – with good reason, as it’s doubtless contributed to my dissipation. I don’t know what it was about the film, but it completely captivated me – the shock, the psychology, the twists and turns… Mixed with lesbian icons Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster, it was love at first viewing for me.
NB – Throughout the film, women hold positions of strength, subverting the classic scream queen influence. How important was it to ensure the film had strong and resilient female characters?
JW – It doesn’t make sense to me to write boring, weak and reactive women because, ultimately, women make the world go round – men just take all the credit and bleat on about their heroic, onanistic journeys of self-discovery. Hence Norman and why I wanted to suspend him as a pathetic central character between the three powerhouses of Annabelle, Apple and Mary. They’re actually doing everything while Norman is pottering around and learning meaningless facts about his origin story – a totally fatuous endeavour, but one that obsesses men like me. But he’s still the lead – much to his sister’s chagrin – because that’s how the world works. And I wanted to play him.
NB – I don’t think we are spoiling anything by saying that this film is drenched in blood. What was it like being surrounded by all that gore on set?
JW – Surreal. I remember eating my lunch next to a severed penis one day, and though it didn’t quell my appetite entirely, it certainly made me think about ethically sourced pork.
NB – It feels like the cast and crew had an absolute blast working on Two Heads Creek; what memories will stick with you from filming?
JW – I adored everyone who worked on this film – except for my costar Kathryn Wilder who was verbally abusive to me in fifteen-minute intervals and is also a pyromaniac. I don’t think I’ll forget the heat in the meat shed; the yonic prosthetic glued to my leg; the belly laughs afforded by the famous bald actor Gary Sweet; and a drink called ‘Bundy’.
NB – If you could pick one activity from the following, which would you choose? A) A weekend crash course in butchery, B) A vegan cooking course or C) A budget beer-tasting course.
JW – Alas, I’ve done all three during lockdown. I’ve been living with and cooking for my mother – she self-identifies as a vegan. Her neighbour is a sheep farmer who taught me how to slaughter babies. And I’m an alcoholic. So I think I’d probably celebrate the end of this miserable time with D) A couple of grams of smack.
NB – And finally, which would you prefer? A hot bowl of an unknown stew? A dodgy-looking sausage? Or a whole raw onion?
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t consumed dodgy sausage in the past.
Director: Jesse O’Brien
Cast: Jordan Waller, Kerry Armstrong, Gary Sweet, Kathryn Wilder, Don Bridges, Stephen Hunter, Helen Dallimore, David Adlam, Kevin Harrington
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