Us Brits have always been known for dark comedy and this year’s Sightseers is about as pitch black, and as British, as they come. Written by its stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, the film is a murderous road trip through the finest attractions the North of England has to offer.
Chris (Oram) wants to show his new girlfriend Tina (Lowe) his favourite places on a caravanning trip of the North. Tina’s controlling mother makes it quite clear she doesn’t trust him, but then she doesn’t trust her own daughter since an accident with her pet dog and a knitting needle some years earlier. As it turns out, Tina’s mum is right to be cautious, as Chris has a particularly dark streak that is slowly revealed as their journey takes in such star attractions as Crich Tramway and the Keswick Pencil Museum.
When Chris witnesses a fellow tourist flout the littering rules on a antique tram, he becomes increasingly agitated. Later, while reversing his beloved caravan out of the car park he accidentally backs over the offending bloke, killing him instantly. It’s when we see Chris’ look of shock morph into a slim, wry smile that we know something isn’t quite right – it seems that Chris has a taste for blood, and the easily-led Tina is developing one too.
Sightseers is directed by Kill List’s Ben Wheatley – no stranger to dark scenes. There is a definite tonal similarity with that film, except for the flashes of jet black comedy. It also shares it’s scenery with Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip – beautifully stark mountains and misty moors. The laughs don’t come easily all the time – though a confrontation with a rambler at a stone circle is particularly funny – and the violence is quick yet nasty, meaning that Sightseers feels a pretty niche at times.
Its tone wavers a little throughout, but there’s no arguing that Sightseers is a unique proposition in a world increasingly full of remakes and adaptations. Showcasing some fantastic homegrown talent and a brave combination of comedy, brutal murder and the Northern countryside, it’s worth supporting.
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