Brothers of the Head

Director: Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe
Cast: Harry Treadaway, Luke Treadaway, Bryan Dick

Reviewer: Susanna Krawcyzk

Brothers of the Head is based on a short novel by Brian Aldiss which told the tale of conjoined twin brothers with a dormant head that is all that’s left of their triplet growing on the shoulder of one of the twins. They are named Tom and Barry Howe, and when a record producer on the look out for a new novelty act hears of them he decides to “buy” them from their father in order to have them front a band. From this unusual and attention-grabbing story directors Keith Fulton and Luis Pepe have crafted an emotional, incredible, hilarious, terrifying film about the music industry, youth, jealousy and society’s fascination with “freaks”.

The movie does indeed leave behind some of the book’s science fiction leanings, exchanging the mysterious third head on Barry’s shoulder for a foetus-in-foetu situation (in which the remains of the unformed triplet is in fact speculated to be contained within a tumour in his skull). This was a good move from the point of view of removing some of the “freakish” aspect of the boys and allowing us to connect with them and feel for them on more of a human level.

In the main this is a masterful study of the “live fast die young” attitude of young celebrities and the exploitation that is inevitable in the creation of celebrity. The problems associated with the lifestyle the boys are suddenly exposed to are only magnified by their physical and emotional connection, and by the end of the film it is clear from their grey complexions and ravaged faces that when two young men share a liver the excess of the rock and roll lifestyle takes a double toll on them.

Apart from this, Brothers of the Head is an incredibly emotional film. The brothers’ connection is at different times touching, terrifying, familiar and alien. The mock documentary style of the movie also allows it to explore some of the ethical issues involved in dealing with people with “disabilities”. The invasive nature of the camera allows the viewer insights into the Howe twins’ fascinating way of life but at the cost of their privacy and, on occasion, their dignity. It makes for an uncomfortable but compelling viewing experience.

To sum up, there are some films that, when I talk about them, I end up needing a few puffs of my asthma inhaler. This is definitely one of them. It’s an amazing film – go and see it!