Friday, 26 April 2013


Title: Sightseers
Director: Ben Wheatly
Released: 2012
Starring: Steve Oram, Alice Lowe, Eileen Davis, Richard Glover, Monica Dolan, Jonathan Aris, Richard Lumsden
Plot: A decidedly British black comedy, which finally fills the space for a Natural Born Killers meets Caravan holiday crossover (for anyone who’s been holding out for such a thing) as caravan enthusiast Chris (Oram) takes his shy and retiring girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe) on what they hope will be a dream sightseeing holiday in his caravan, only to end up on an impromptus killing spree.
Review: For myself and my fellow brits here on this rain soaked isle, there are few things which seem so British as the idea of the caravanning holiday, were you forgo the comfort and luxury of a hotel room, to sit in the middle of a field while generally doing your business into a chemical toilet. This is of course after you have finished being the bane of every motorist you cut off or delay with the monstrosity you have chosen to tow behind your car. No doubt the people who enjoy these sorts of holidays being viewed as the least likely inspiration for a pair of serial killers, but here it is an idea which works surprisingly well, as the leather cladded “Natural Born Killers” Mickey and Mallory are exchanged for out knitware loving duo, which even extends in Tina’s case to a lovely pair of knitted crotch less panties (no sure how that would work out in real life, much less how well knitware lends itself to lingerie).
I would say to start that the best way to view this film is really to go in as blind as possible, which having said that it is far from the easiest thing I know in these times were information on any film is ever only a mouse click away. Equally problematic is the trailer, which while it does a great job of selling the film, perhaps gives away a little too much of the potential surprises the film could have delivered and something which frequently proved to be a real frustration when watching the film and knowing that so many moments could had been a lot more effective had I not know they were coming. Perhaps with this in mind you should just bookmark this review and come back when you have seen this film to avoid any potential spoilers I may leak throughout, while ensuring the maximum amount of surprise from this truly original film.
Both Chris and Tina are far from your text book serial killers with their love of knitwear and genuine desire to visit the frequently twee tourist attractions such Crich Tramway Museum and Keswick Pencil Museum, with their desire to kill usually being triggered by those who don’t fit into their world view or more frequently anyone who they believe has disrespected them, be it a litterbug or upper class snobs, one way or another the duo soon find a way to settle the score and in their mind restore the balance. Still when we first meet them, you would never think that either of these two would be capable of such random acts of violence. Tina in particular though is the most interesting, seeing how when we meet her she introduced as an awkward soul who is shown living a sheltered life, still living at home with her hypochondriac mother, a situation which has seemingly resulted in her withdrawing into herself, with her relationship with Chris being an attempt to break out of this rut, especially since her mother has never forgiven her for accidently killing the family dog in a bizarre knitting needle accident.
While initially it is Chris who does the killing, covering for his murderous tendencies by making his murders look like accidents, as he hides this side of his world from Tina only for her to soon become drawn into this side of things, as she finally explores her own murderous side which is frequently hinted at before she reveals it, though as the duo embrace this new world view based on Chris’s theories of each death helping to restore the balance, it is only a matter of time before things soon start to spiral out of control, which soon becomes one of the main focuses of the film as director Wheatly unflinchingly charts the deterioration of their relationship as you wonder how it will all end, while ensuring that this pitch black comedy is only painted in the darkest shades.
Due to their killing spree antics It is impossible to view this film without drawing comparisons to “Natural Born Killers” and perhaps to a lesser extent the controversial French thriller “Base-Moi”, both of which seem to have been a key influence in the creation of this film, but while Chris and Tina might be getting the same arousal from their killing, with each one usually followed by enthusiastic sex scenes, but the key difference here though is that they don’t have to kill to fill some unquenchable thirst for violence and death like their counterparts, but instead it truly is about restoring the balance for them. The deaths though  are certainly as original as they frequently are brutal with bludgeoning’s and even the caravan itself being used as the means of despatch for their victims, with some great special effects on show even though Wheatly doesn’t take the film into slasher territory by giving it a high body count, he does however ensure that when someone dies they do in it is suitably memorable, especially as he teases out each kill by slowly cranking up the anticipation until the inevitable conclusion.
“Sightseers” is certainly an interesting film and Wheatly here really surprises us with this surprise change of style, especially after the pitch black thrillers “Down Terrace” and the cinematic marmite “Kill List” which truly proved to be the sort of film which divides audiences, which is no doubt what will happen with this film, even more so when Wheatly’s brand of black humour is so dark that it won’t be to everyone’s tastes while the humour being more incidental than the trailer would you have you believe it is no doubt making it far from the easiest watch for most movie goers, especially those without a slightly warped sense of humour, which is essentially who this film will most appeal to, making it certainly what you would call a niche film. Seeing how so much the of the film is based on British culture, I am especially curious to see how this film translates to audiences outside of the UK and whether it will manage the same appeal that Edger Wright’s (who appears here as executive producer) equally British culture influenced projects like ”Spaced”, “Hot Fuzz” and “Shawn of The Dead” have managed. For now it remains a darkly comedic curiosity, but one which you will likely only watch once as it holds little to reward repeat viewings.

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