Mum: “Murderer!” Tina: “It was an accident.” Mum: “So were you!”
Sightseers is a madcap black comedy with a serious mean streak—and a body count.
Reads my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: Chris wants to show Tina his world and he wants to do it his way – on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford Caravan. Tina’s led a sheltered life and there are things that Chris needs her to see – the Crich Tramway Museum, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Keswick Pencil Museum and the rolling countryside that separates these wonders in his life. But it doesn’t take long for the dream to fade. Litterbugs, noisy teenagers and pre-booked caravan sites, not to mention Tina’s meddling mother, soon conspire to shatter Chris’s dreams and send him, and anyone who rubs him up the wrong way, over a very jagged edge…
Writers Alice Lowe and Steve Oram are also the starring characters in Sightseers: Tina and Chris respectively. These two clearly have amazing chemistry as the story and the acting both excel. The script is tight and the comic banter is spot on. Lowe and Oram have created a killer couple both hilarious and unlikely: A deadpan mundane version of Mickey and Mallory Knox (Natural Born Killers).
Chris’s biggest problems (besides being unemployed and suffering writer’s block) are that he’s too tightly wound—and way too sensitive. He has very specific plans, a strict agenda with hardly a shred of patience or flexibility. The slightest deviation from his ideal romantic adventure (crossing paths with a litterbug, for example) and he falls to pieces, oft lamenting the “ruined holiday”. Tina’s biggest problem (besides her bat-shit mother) is her low self-esteem. She’s so scared of abandonment, she’s willing to overlook Chris’s… flaws. She rationalizes. In this sense, Sightseers becomes a morality tale about the dangers of compromise. Together, Chris and Tina are a perfect storm of neurosis—with violent (and violently hilarious) results.
Sightseers draws its power from the horror that exists just below the surface of the mundane. Everything in this film feels real—almost brutal in its banality. If anyone in Sightseers is wearing makeup or using beauty products, it doesn’t show. The clothes are drab. It’s as if sets, scripts, and equipment don’t exist. There are no “props”; the caravan really is a beat-up camper, the car that pulls it, dirty and nondescript. Everything is exactly what it appears to be. We’re lulled by the films easy humor and lack of pretentiousness. It’s a sweet film.
Until people start having “accidents”. Cue the cheesy 80’s Horror Synth (which is a stroke of bloody genius, by the way). The couple finds they have a surprising knack for murder without remorse, or as Tina says, “Thinking outside the box”.
Director Ben Wheatley burst to the forefront of the indie Horror scene with his 2011 feature début, Kill List, a film that many called the best genre offering of the year. (You can find my own review: HERE.) With Sightseers, Wheatley shows incredible depth and diversity as this film resides on a completely different area of the Horror spectrum: Dastardly comedic versus neo-Pagan-gangster-mumble-core. Wheatley’s most recent offering, A Field in England (already released overseas) sounds equally diverse: A historical thriller set in the mid-17th century, shot entirely in black and white. Wheatley is clearly a highly skilled Horror practitioner whose works deserve attention from aficionados and mainstream cinema fans alike.
With a final scene sure to make you gasp, Sightseers is a bloody awesome romp around the British Isles. This film is a treat for Horror fans and anyone who enjoys razor sharp satirical comedy… with a few tasty kills tossed in for good measure. It’s everything you would expect in a film whose tagline is: Death has a ginger beard.
4 out of 5 Crushed Tourist Skulls.
|Writer||Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Amy Jump|
|Starring||Alice Lowe, Steve Oram|