Sightseers

This film was originally reviewed as part of our coverage of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

We’re all going on a summer holiday – ★★★★

The latest film from Ben Wheatley (alas no relation) returns to the black-as-night humour showcased in his feature debut Down Terrace while sprinkling in a few of the sickos that featured in so well in last year’s Kill List.

Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) are going on their first holiday together. As they depart from Tina’s domineeringly barmy mother, there’s a brilliantly weird sense of anticipation building. The couple are going on a caravan trip through England’s midlands with plans to visit such national treasures as the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Crich Tramway Museum and the Kensington Pencil Museum, but there’s something more sinister bubbling below the surface. When Chris inadvertently reverses over another tourist (who was littering it should be added), the wheels are set in motion for a wonderfully sedate and hilarious killing rampage for two twisted lovers.

Oram and Lowe built up these serial-killing characters over the course of five years and it’s very obvious from the off, with this depth and the actors’ natural chemistry making everything they say and do very believable, despite the absurdity of the situation.

| o | – Would you invite them into your caravan for a coffee?

With his recent films Wheatley has shown himself to be adept at the challenging combination of humour and horror. The film has a very distinct look with the country-side looking alluringly grim at all times, though the chances of this being used as advertising tool by the National Trust or Visit Britain are pretty slim.

There are endless laughs, and anyone who claims it isn’t one of the of the funniest films of the year is just plain daft. Edgar Wright came onboard early on as an executive producer and his influence is felt with lots of nods to the rural weirdness showcased in Hot Fuzz mixed in with the blunt Northern charm of the BBC series “The Royle Family”.

The only place where the film falls down is with the plot and pacing; it does just feel like a trip from A to B with little bits of deaths dotted throughout. But with such loveable characters, an ample laugh quota and a cracking ending it’s hard to linger on these shortcomings.

UK  /  Directed By: Ben Wheatley  /  Written By: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram  /  Starring: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Jonathan Aris, Richard Glover, Monica Dolan  /  89min  /   Comedy, Drama   /  Release: 30 November 2012 (UK/Ireland)

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.