Tina, a boring lady who’s heading towards middle-age but still living with her needy mother, has decided to throw caution to the wind and go on a countryside road trip with her new boyfriend, Chris. But what starts as a series of seemingly accidental deaths left in their wake soon opens Tina’s eyes to Chris’s true nature, but does it bother her?
One of the more successful independent British films of the last few years was the violent horror/thriller Kill List. An instant darling with the critics, Kill List built tension and intrigue to a climax that was infuriatingly ambiguous, to this reviewer at least, so much so that Fanboy Confidential’s review of said film can only be described as vitriolic.
So to say I wasn’t looking forward to Ben Wheatley’s follow up film, Sightseers, would be something of an understatement, but reading that it was to have a distinctly different tone to Kill List I gave it the benefit of the doubt and went in with an open mind; fortunate really because Sightseers is an unorthodox joy from beginning to end.
Fans of British cinema may be aware of a director called Shane Meadows, whose more whimsical films such as A Room for Romeo Brass and Once Upon a Time in the Midlands have a distinct charm derived from the interplay generated from the loose way the script is played with by the actors and director on-set. Sightseers starts out very much with that same feel, in fact the story looks like it could play out in a very Shane Meadows way.
That doesn’t turn out to be the case however, when not too far into the proceedings grizzly deaths start occurring with worrying regularity. This is where Wheatley really comes into his own; considering the funny and down to earth style of the film, the severity and violence of the death scenes really comes from left field, sometimes leaving you reeling then going even further so as to have you laughing again, though somewhat uncomfortably.
This isn’t Wheatley’s film though; Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, the stars of the piece, are also the writers and it’s based on their own stand-up routine. Sightseers is their baby, they bring the character, they bring the whimsy and they bring mundanity.
Mundanity in the characters and settings that is, but this isn’t a bad thing, the pair actually succeed in rendering intensely boring people, pointless museums and, well, brutal killers really quite endearing.
The mix is truly a weird one and one that can’t fully be comprehended until it has been viewed, but it’s a welcome weirdness that delivers a funny and unpredictable film that is definitely worth your time.
B+ grade – for originality
B+ grade – for storytelling
B grade – for visuals
B+ grade – for acting
Overall grade B+
Sightseers is released on November 30th in the UK and through December onwards in other world territories… Watch the trailer.