Having seen all of director Ben Wheatley’s films apart from his latest offering, the 16th century mushroom trip A Field in England, I can safely say I’m a fan. Until I see A Field in England, which I’m eagerly looking forward to, Wheatley’s previous creation Sightseers has been his most enjoyable.
Down Terrace was an entertaining black gangster comedy debut but nothing new. Kill List was a brutal thriller masterpiece, but perhaps too brutal. Sightseers combines Wheatley’s brutality and humour in a way that doesn’t savage viewers and remains unpredictable while still exploring familiar film territory.
The familiar aspect of the film is that it’s about star crossed lovers embarking on a soul searching road trip, which swiftly turns bloody. Think a British version of Badlands with jokes, where the characters aren’t James Dean lookalikes but Northern caravan pullers longing to see such sights as the Keswick Pencil Museum.
Lovers Chris and Tina (played perfectly by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, who both wrote the film) have their charms and flaws to amuse and frighten us. Chris is a ginger bearded caravan fanatic who claims he is on a sabbatical across Northern England to write his book. He wants to bring along his new girlfriend Tina, to get her away from her overbearing mother and show her his world. But the trip doesn’t go smoothly, and the pair of misfits react in comic but violent ways.
Quirky, dark and tragic, this is the best that British comedy should be.