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  Two Heads Creek Carnivore Country
Year: 2019
Director: Jesse O'Brien
Stars: Jordan Waller, Kathryn Wilder, Kerry Armstrong, Stephen Hunter, Gary Sweet, Don Bridges, Helen Dallimore, Kevin Harrington, Gregory J. Fryer, Madelaine Nunn, Kent Lee, Kasha Bajor, David Adlam, Anna Tolputt, Rob Sheean, Elizabeth Xu, Danxia Yang
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Norman (Jordan Waller) is a butcher in a town in England, one which voted for Brexit so are quite happy to throw abuse at him at every opportunity because he has a Polish name. He feels he doesn't have much choice of profession, for his mother was a butcher and he lived with her, and now she has recently passed away he has to take over the family business. First, the funeral, and his twin sister Annabelle (Kathryn Wilder) shows up along with their Polish brethren to pay their respects. However, there was a weird phone call from a mysterious Australian which has him wonder what is really going on, and Annabelle's discovery of a postcard has him wondering more...

Two Heads Creek was an Australian/British co-production that was filmed in both countries and took a wry look at the xenophobic tendencies of them with a strong line in gross-out humour. That could have resulted in some very right-off jokes at the expense of all sorts of creeds and colours, yet what was refreshing was that it was more complex than it initially appeared, and the crude laughs in star Waller's screenplay contained some canny points about identifying too strongly with your country of origin to the extent of ignoring all kinds of drawbacks they have, most of which were depicted here as racism and rampant bigotry. Trouble was, nationalism was no laughing matter for many people.

Therefore not everyone was going to get the joke, which was more that everywhere has its own unpleasant aspects to the national character that it excuses with flimsy motives they are looking after their locals, or they have a tradition to uphold, you know, all that backward-looking business that ignores the better elements of the past and employs those prejudices to bolster the general patriotism. In fact, this was so scathing about jingoism that you could be legitimately concerned you were about to settle down to watch an epic telling off for the audience who ever felt a swell of national pride at their anthem being played or the sight of their flag unfurled over a council building.

Really, that pride was a hollow feeling, and you were stuck with your fellow countrymen and women just as you were with your family, was the message here, but before it grew too hectoring and didactic, there was an advantage to this point of view: it could be very funny. And thanks to a willing cast and a genuine intelligence behind what turned very gory indeed, Two Heads Creek was highly refreshing as far as its comedy went; it didn't look refreshing, as in the visuals, with Britain a hellhole and Australia a... hotter, sweatier hellhole, but it hit the ground running and with some excellent, deeper than superficially anticipated performances it struck its bullseyes with energy and some hilarious lines (yes, there was a Rolf Harris gag in there) and imaginative gore for when it went all out for the horror. Not bad considering its brevity.

Actually, that under an hour and a half running time contributed to its punchy qualities and meant it did not outstay its welcome, though with this topic under consideration, maybe "welcome" was the wrong word. This could have been a bitter lament about everyone being a complete moron at heart, but the characters were likeable, even, oddly, the villains, thanks to its humour that was essentially goodnatured and goofy when it was not savaging the tiny minds on display. The plot had Norman and Annabelle find out their mother was not who they thought, and go to Australia to track down their real parent at the arse end of nowhere smalltown. But the locals, who like their meat plenty, are a strange lot, and seem to be covering something up - fair enough, this was a tad predictable, but there were some excellent barbs (Annabelle never passing a chance to say she's a vegan, the textbook psychology that the bad guys have been studying to teach them more rounded personalities) and even a musical number based around the mystery meat. A lot better than you would expect - nobody said satire had to be subtle, but it helps to be smart. Music by Ryan Elliott Stevens.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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