Sightseers -- A Brutal British Black Comedy

                                   "Mum, Yorkshire is lovely and not like you said at all" says the knitting enthusiast Tina, who has a caravanning holiday with ginger-bearded Chris. The cross-country road trip turns out to be surprisingly good. The only problem is they knock off the more obnoxious characters they encounter en route. Following "Kill List", Ben Wheatley gives us another darkly disturbing movie titled "Sightseers" (2013). A film about an odd couple with a shared love of serial killing. 

                                     Tina (Alice Lowe) is 34, lives at home with an nettlesome mother (Eileen Davies). She and her mother are mourning the death of beloved pooch, Poppy. Tina has a boyfriend named Chris (Steve Oram). They have been together for three months and it is about time for them to hit the road on a holiday. They head off to visit some of the British heritage sites such as Crich Tramway Village and the Keswick Pencil Museum. A litterbug at the Tramway museum instigates Chris fury. Soon he was rundown by Chris' caravan, which is reported as an accident. Bodies start to fall when the couples relationship deepens and darkens. Violent rash deaths follow one after another as they visit a series of tourist attractions. 

                               The improbable setting of the story is just one of the things that makes co-stars and co-writers Steve Oram and Alice Lowe’s high-concept idea such a uniquely funny proposition. The story must have been improvised many times because, as the bodies pile up, the deadpan dialogue and timing is impeccable. The additional material by Amy Jump (Wheatley's wife) rounds up the screenplay with the perfectly formed characters.

                             Like the uniquely dark and funny setting, the film is also blessed with Wheatley's direction, who sets the masterful tone. Wheatley started his directing career with the acclaimed feature "Down Terrace" and followed it with "Kill List". Both the movies exposes the angry underbelly of modern life. With "Sightseers" he once again gives us a Britain, which is dotted with ‘heritage’ spots like the Keswick Pencil Museum, and a mental landscape where priorities are seriously out of whack. Like John Waters' "Serial Mom" and the recent "God Bless America", this film also contains characters with questionable taste, who get to decide who lives or dies according to their own corrupt code. Although the violence is gory at times, it gives us a guilty-pleasure, in which murder is treated as a problem-solving tool for those who lack the human skills to sort things out like civilized folk. 

                               Oram and Lowe's wry performance brings out the psychological nuances of two lonely people beaten down by life suddenly finding each other. They have a marvelous neurotic chemistry, making it to root for their relationship in spite of these new-found habits. Ultimately their relationship raises a serious question:  How does a couple make it work when the two can’t agree on an acceptable motive for killing imbeciles? Eileen Davis gives a fantastic supporting performance as Tina's overbearing mother.  The premise loses its momentum in the middle parts but for a good part of the trip, this film offers disturbingly good fun. The striking nature of the climax feels oddly revelatory.

                              "Sightseers" is an unique British black comedy, which should be seen for the impressive direction of Wheatley and if you don't mind the disorienting mood shifts.


Sightseers -- IMDb


Vinita Apte said...

This seems to be a wicked comedy. I love British humour so I guess will like the movie.

Lazy Pineapple

Anonymous said...

Very different theme.. am not too much for horror and serial killers but this sounds strangely both horror and funny !

Raghav said...

I won't call it brutal, but it sure is bloody and dark. The comedy is subtle, so not laugh-out-loud. While I did enjoy the film, it was a bit predictable from the get-go and so was the ending. Still a great hour and a half of entertainment.

Arun Kumar said...

@Vinita Kherdekar, Thanks for the comment. Give your thoughts on the movie once you have watched it.

@themoonstone, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, gleefully horrific movie.

@Raghav, Thanks for the comment. May be not as brutal for a serial killer movie. The ending was predictable but the way it was shot was very good.