In 2006, Shane and Clayton Jacobson made a big impression with ‘Kenny’.
The light-hearted comedy about a plumber was a surprise success, launching the careers of the brothers and becoming an instant Australian classic. Now, the duo has reunited for the first time since with their new film ‘Brothers’ Nest’. One thing is very clear in this thriller: this is definitely not ‘Kenny’.
The film opens on brothers Jeff (Clayton Jacobson, who also directs) and Terry (Shane Jacobson) riding their bikes through a thick fog in rural Victoria. Dressed like “pumpkins” in hazmat suits, the pair spends the long day inside their mother’s empty house, putting into action a plan to save the house. Inside is dark, with lights off and curtains drawn, which creates a dark atmosphere. The darkness is suitable as their plan to save the house involves committing a horrific crime.
Alfred Hitchcock famously described suspense as the audience knowing more than the characters on the screen, using the example of a ticking bomb near the characters that only the audience can see. ‘Brothers’ Nest’ does the opposite, with the characters knowing more than the audience. This technique creates more suspense, capturing the audience’s attention and grasp on to each piece of information revealed.
The film spends time with the brothers as they go about putting their plan into action. As the camera lurks through the house, an interesting dynamic is formed. Shane’s Terry appears hesitant throughout, like he can’t believe they’re really doing this but only their out of obligation to his brother. It’s a nice dramatic turn that gives the film a moral core.
Clayton hasn’t appeared as much on screens as Shane, but his performance as Jeff is marvellous. Jeff is a meticulous planner with every step of their awful crime laid out to the smallest detail.
It’s a stand-out performance that also slowly builds. Shane and Clayton have a toxic chemistry and the dynamic adds suspense by making viewers ask if Terry’s reasoning will make them pull out of the plan or wonder just how far they’ll go.
Despite it being a thriller there are moments of levity, but they are as dark as their surroundings. Laughs come from something as subtle as the constant tea breaks as they make violent preparations. There’s also some truly twisted slapstick that appears and, while funny, causes discomfort as they’re things that shouldn’t be laughed at.
‘Brothers’ Nest’ is an intriguing character-driven film that slowly builds its way to an explosive conclusion. The ending feels slightly stilted, but the journey there is gripping. It’s not ‘Kenny’, and it’s better for it.