Film Review: Sightseers (2012)

on Friday, November 30, 2012
'Sightseers' (UK Release: 30 Nov '12) // Words: Lauren Johnson-Ginn

Director Ben Wheatley follows up last year’s well-received horror-thriller 'Kill List' with demented and hilarious (un)romantic comedy 'Sightseers', proving that the course of true love never does run smooth – especially when the couple in question display some fairly spectacular sociopathic tendencies.

As well as writing the script, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram take on the roles of star cross’d lovers (continuing the Shakespearean theme) Tina and Chris respectively - the former a sheltered, dreamy and decidedly odd woman straining to break free from her peevish mother’s apron strings, the latter an unprepossessing, anorak-clad pencil museum enthusiast.

Embarking on a whistle-stop caravan tour of the bleak (and often hauntingly beautiful) Northern countryside, the pair alternate between loudly consummating their love and taking in such luminous cultural highlights as the Crich Tramway Museum. All is going smoothly until a chance encounter with an inconsiderate litterbug provokes a brilliantly disproportionate primal rage in Chris – sparking the descent of the holiday into violence and madness.

Comedy and horror are often tricky to pull off in tandem, but Wheatley does a fantastic job of balancing these two elements harmoniously, following up gruesome murders with hilarious one-liners, but never allowing the overall tone to become too farcical – or too dark as to not be funny. This balance relies heavily on the naturalistic performances of Lowe and Oram, who are both excellent, giving almost every interaction a convincingly off-the-cuff, improvised quality.

Comparisons to 'Natural Born Killers' are perhaps inevitable, but 'Sightseers' couldn’t be further removed from the relative glamour of that earlier movie. A distinctive grey, bleary Britishness permeates the action like a fine drizzle, providing a rich source of humour – and making this as much a film about the absurdities and perversities of the British as it about tainted love, moral bankruptcy and crazy killing sprees.


'Sightseers' is out in UK cinemas today.

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