This small Aussie gem is filled with a plethora of psychological, existential and family related questions, often answered in surprising and unexpected ways. That it does this while being funny and thrilling is an accomplishment.
Terry and Jeff feel slighted. Their mother is dying, and in their eyes, step father Roger is taking advantage of her by willingly accepting their childhood home as part of her will.
The only answer is obvious. They must kill him, naturally.
Entering his house in orange overalls under the darkness of morning, Jeff begins to go through the plan with his brother. Only this isn’t a conversation, the plan is represented by a convenient, harmless looking check-list. Terry’s reaction to seeing what they plan to do listed on paper is understandable, but what lingers under his skin is the fact that his brother seems so non-nonchalant about the entire situation.
Terry remarks that if he didn’t know any better, he’d have thought that Jeff had done this before, with every detail meticulously thought through. Apart from the obvious requirement for gloves, he goes a few extra steps bordering on the obsessive compulsive.
Each item on the agenda is carefully timed so that they can get the jump on Roger while having everything planned to perfection. But nothing is perfect, and once Murphy’s Law kicks in, and after much shenanigans, their plan go awry. This is when the film becomes interesting and dark as the thriller tag of the film begins to unravel.
It soon turns into a thrilling guessing game as to what surprise lies around the next corner. The deeper into the situation the brothers get, the more they disagree on what is happening.
It is here where the fact that the two actors are brothers in reality becomes obvious, as this sort of conflict, such deep verbal jabs… This chemistry between the brothers on screen could never have been apparent if this weren’t the case.
Comparisons to Coen films are not far off, as this is a very dry film. It is also filled with dark humour, at first subtle but increasing as the action rises. The laughs come despite violence on-screen, an achievement in itself.
Interestingly, their biological father killed himself when they were children, a traumatic event that still lingers, with many thoughts going unsaid. This could be seen as a family drama wrapped up in a darkly comedic thriller. Perhaps their father’s suicide provided that extra motivation to get the ugly deed over with. Or perhaps it just gave Jeff the idea, as he is certainly the one in charge.
As seamlessly as this turns from an interesting premise into a thrilling movie with laughs probably more appropriate for a lunatic, there is an uncommon complaint to be found. Almost every aspect of this film is near perfect, especially the aforementioned chemistry between real brothers Clayton and Shane. And the sense of humour. And the dread that consumes the film as soon as plans are turned on their head.
But it feels like this chamber-piece is over too quickly, the psychological implications of what transpires aren’t fully explored. This is admittedly nit-picking, but the ending does feel underwhelming given what preceded it. Regardless, Brothers’ Nest is an extremely memorable film made on a typically shoestring Australia film budget.
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