Death truly does have a ginger beard.
Sightseers is a black comedy written by stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, directed by indie favourite Ben Wheatley. Indeed, this film appears to be Wheatley’s highest budget production with very high quality film. This is not important though when the film is as funny as this.
Sightseers follows a couple on their caravan holiday pursuing the small-scale museums and small-town, rural Britain. This is a caravan holiday that goes wrong from the start, with Tina’s (Alice Lowe) mother scared for her, disliking Chris (Steve Oram). On their first stop, Chris and Tina meet, get annoyed by and “accidentally” kill a man littering by running over his head. This sets the scene as we see many more (incredibly) brutal killings, littering the narrative with bodies.
I do not want to divulge much into the plot, but suffice to say, everything goes wrong. It’s how everything goes wrong, going from place to place, and caravan site to caravan site. With each killing, Tina and Chris get more involved with each other, Tina finding some kind of sexual excitement from it. The narrative flows seamlessly and it is a wonder to see everything unfold so naturally and hilariously.
This is the funniest British film I have seen since Four Lions; indeed, both films share a similar sense of humour and style but Sightseers is helped by Ben Wheatley’s impeccable direction. Every scene and every shot makes perfect sense for the film, adding tension, humour and even some compassion into every frame. The film does take a little while to get going, but when it does you will not want to stop watching, laughing at both subtle jokes and things more obvious.
The film is beautifully shot too, there is such a fine eye for detail throughout. Awkward scenes look awkward, brutal scenes look brutal and everything in between looks better than it should. A particular favourite for me comes when Chris is walking back to the caravan park after killing someone he finds annoying, walking past a group of hippies dancing around a fire.
Writers and stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram did a fantastic job writing the tightly paced, hilarious script as well as providing equally brilliant performances as Tina and Chris respectively. Acting in the film is very good throughout, with each performance really playing their respective characters very well. Particularly good acting comes from in the form of Banjo, Chris and Tina’s dog, very good.
The real star of the show however comes in the form of location, Britain is on show amazingly in this film – the film is expertly British in every regard. Wheatley really caught the essence of caravanning and British landscape, mixing them with gruesome comedy in fantastic fashion.
However, due to the film’s dark subject matter, some viewers may be put off as the premise of the film is entirely horrible in context, execution and premise. Hopefully those of a more squeamish nature may let it all go just to watch the glorious insanity unfold in full-on vulgarity in such a stylish, funny and effective manner.
Sightseers’ only flaw is its slow start, which just serves to introduce the characters. It’s a niche film for sure, and some may be put off by the gruesome nature of the movie but if they are, they’re just missing out on a hugely enjoyable, funny black comedy with a fantastic eye for detail, locales and British-ness.
Writers Alice Lowe and Steve Oram crafted a brilliant script given fantastic, brutal life by genius director Ben Wheatley. A must see.