BROTHERS’ NEST [2018]

MV5BNTIyZDJjMzctNGNlMy00Y2YwLWFmYjEtZjVkMmY0MGYxMzI4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTE1ODc3NTk@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,700,1000_AL_

This small Aussie gem is filled with a plethora of psychological, existential and family related questions posited, often are 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 checklist. 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.

As if they aren’t planning to kill their step-father and then to make it look like a suicide.

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, including no opening of the fridge as that could cause a power surge. The same applies to the toilet: the water pump goes off and electricity is used.

Enter the use of piss-bottles. If he wants to take a shit Terry asks, Jeff calmly replies that unless he wants to get his hands particularly dirty, he’ll hold it in like a big boy.

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 Murphey’s Law kicks in, and after much shenanigans,  their plans go awry. They still though insist on maintaining their alibi for their mother: that they are in Sydney, while using a cassette tape of the noises of a big city to fool her. Scruples are not something either brother possess.

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, the darkness of the entire situation, 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.

Terry begins to wonder what he is capable of, knowing his mother is only has a few months left to live and he plans to kill her partner during her final days, but furthermore, despite knowing his brother so well, he can never be sure of what he is capable of either. This is amplified by Clayton Jacobson’s muted, almost emotionless performance as Jeff.

Comparisons to Coen films are not far off, as this is a dry film. It is also filled with dark humour, at first subtle but it increases as the action increases, not unlike a Coen film. The laughs come despite violence on-screen.When Roger unexpectedly arrives at the house early, the two jolt into action that they weren’t prepared for, forcing them to act in ways they may not have. Suddenly, the carefully planned timetable is useless. Yet the laughs still come, if one has a twisted sense of humour. There is definite Australian character to the laughs to be found.

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 it 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.

mv5bmmqwnzlhntqtzdgxys00n2u3lwjimzatndzhm2zjowm1zjc3xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynte1odc3ntk-_v1_.jpg


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 something goes awry. But it feels like this chamber-piece is over too quickly, that 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.

A full sixer. Funny, dark, unpredictable. Coen-esque. What else could one ask for?

6/6