In 2006, Clayton Jacobson’s debut feature, the mockumentary Kenny, launched his brother Shane into the kind of semi-stardom where you host undercooked game shows and helm underwritten advertisements. Kenny was heralded as charming from all corners, but its darker underbelly, exposing the dysfunction at the core of Aussie masculinity and how it manifests itself in families, was largely ignored.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Clayton’s follow-up feature –12 years later – focuses intently on that very dysfunction. Here the Jacobsons play brothers plotting to murder their stepfather for ill-defined reasons; as Terry, Shane is just as dopey as Kenny but nowhere near as likeable, while Clayton dials up his Kenny character’s selfishness to a sociopathic degree.
While the first half of Brothers’ Nest tends to drag – the screenplay is endeavouring to create tension and intrigue, but feels a tad too repetitive – when it shifts into full-on genre mode in the latter half, unveiling twists and brandishing guns, it sings as a truly black comedy. It takes the scepticism beneath Kenny and allows it to fester and overtake the film; there are laughs here, but you’ll walk out of Brothers’ Nest feeling decidedly less optimistic about humanity than you did leaving Kenny.