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Sightseers

Sightseers

Released 30 November 2012
Director Ben Wheatley
Starring Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Writer(s) Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Producer(s)

Claire Jones, Nira Park, Andrew Starke
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 88 minutes
Genre Comedy
Rating 16
88

Killing in fields.

My favourite film of last year was Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, a pitch black slice of violence, paranoia and the occult that had me shaking by the end of it. With his new film Sightseers, Wheatley has not only confirmed his talent but also a slot in the best of this year. Written by and starring Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, Sightseers follows a new couple, Tina and Steve, as they take a caravan trip around England’s heritage sites. The holiday takes a turn for the surreal when it is revealed that Steve has a tendency to murder people that irritate him. At first confused and disturbed by her boyfriend’s secret life, Tina soon joins in on the action and the pair tour the country leaving a trail of corpses in their wake.

This is a serial killer movie that relishes the banal as well as the blackly grotesque, a sensibility not unlike that of The League of Gentlemen or indeed cult series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, in which Lowe appeared. Though they are murderous fugitives, Tina and Steve are categorically uncool. Tina has lived a sheltered life in which she has preferred the company of dogs to humans. In her relationship with Steve, she is experiencing a sexual awakening involving a pair of handknit crotchless knickers. Steve is a wannabe intellectual with a trainspotter-ish knowledge of caravans, whose idea of a good time is a trip to the Keswick Pencil Museum. Bonnie and Clyde they ain’t; but their oddball relationship is compelling.

Their victims meanwhile, aren’t terribly likeable; meaning that when they get picked off, we can enjoy the squelch without getting bogged down in guilt. Tina and Steve certainly don’t, as Steve comments after a particularly vicious attack, "That wasn’t a person, that was a Daily Mail reader." Oram and Lowe’s script is full of great lines like this, as well as visual gags. These are handled fantastically by Wheatley who proves himself equally adept with comedy as with violence.

Wonderfully strange, beautifully shot and laugh out loud funny, Sightseers is a riotously entertaining affair.

- Linda O’Brien