Sightseers

Chris wants to show girlfriend Tina his world, but events soon conspire against the couple and their dream caravan holiday takes a very wrong turn.

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  • ★★★★ review by Scott Adcock on Letterboxd

    After years of watching films about people from other cities all around the world...

    FINALLY a film about people from Birmingham! Englands second city and my home town!

    Sadly, I have a mild phobia about hearing my fellow Brummies talk on the TV or on the radio, I think its to do with local radio phone-ins, I also have a deep seated hatred of Caravan holidays...so I had to get over those to be able to watch Sightseers!

    It tells the tale of boring couple Chris and Tina on their week long holiday around the country, taking in such sights as the Keswick Pencil Museum. Boring except for the fact that they are serial killers!

    Its Natural Born Killers for the Midlands! But with added ginger beard, knitted crotchless panties, a sex scene involving a dog and some delightfully bloody deaths. Heads get smashed, limbs crushed and guts fly out! I will never be able to listen to Jerusalem in quite the same way ever again!

    The two main characters have a great chemistry and its quite touching how they are, despite them being downright evil. The ending is perfect too!

    The soundtrack is excellent and all these things added up make the whole experience a lot of fun!

  • ★★★★ review by Arielrocks5 on Letterboxd

    Weirdly reminds me of the stuff I like in Yorgos Lanthimos and Todd Solodz's senses of humor but put through a much darker and nastier lense, with some damn intense sound design and imagery to leave a deeper impression than some actual horror films I've seen recently.

    Yet in-spite of the two comparisons above, Ben Wheatley definitely still has a voice of his own and conveys it well.....granted, I'm not exactly sure what the hell he's trying to tell me with it, but I do know I do like hearing it, even if most of what he ended up showing me will probably give me some genuine nightmares.

    Alice Lowe and Steve Oram work off each other well and their script is as equally funny as it is incredibly disturbing. It does meander a bit in the first act and doesn't find its footing till around the half way point, but what follows afterwards is well worth the time of any lover of dark humor or just looking for something unforgettable and different than the typical road movie.

  • ★★★★ review by DirkH on Letterboxd

    After having seen all his films now I think it is safe to say I really like Wheatley's filmmaking voice. After Down Terrace and Kill List, this pitch black comedy is once again set in Wheatley's Britain that seems to reside in a slightly off kilter reality.

    Wheatley paces the script, written by the lead actors, perfectly. The slow spiral of increasing madness and constantly shifting balance of power within this relationship is what makes this film such a great watch. It is as unpredictable as its protagonists, alternating between wonderfully mundane dialogue and extreme violence as if it's the most normal thing in the world.

    What I love about Wheatley's style is that he always seems to try and inject a sense of surreal realism in his films. His characters and Sightseers is no exception seem to be extrapolated from simple people and turned into something befitting the tropes prevalent in the genre he's working in. The effect of this is that you get larger than life characters with a very realistic feel.

    In this film, this 'hyper realism' strengthened by the bourgeois activities they're undertaking, so very recognisable to anyone who has ever been camping in Britain. I have done this many a time and I just love this part of Britain, with its bizarre museums and clusters of historical landmarks. Sightseers captures that part beautifully, providing such a bizarre and contrasting setting that it creates a constant uneasy tension which benefited the film greatly.

    Cast, director and script come together fantastically here, making this one of the best dark comedies of recent years.

  • ★★★½ review by Adam Cook on Letterboxd

    Director, Ben Wheatley, continues his subversion of very American genres; first the gangster movie (Down Terrace), then hitmen (Kill List) and now killers-on-the-run with Sightseers. His unique and very British spin on the familiar has delivered unexpected yet uneven results in the past and this film is no different with a story that never quite sustains its sporadic brilliance.

    Sightseers is a darkly comic descent into the twisted minds of serial killers on a bloody tour of bleak Midlands tourist destinations. Referencing everything from Mike Leigh’s Nuts in May to Malick’s Badlands it is this hodgepodge of influences that gives the film a welcome and surprising tension. It is hard to know how well this film will play to a non-British audience seeing as its humour and cultural references are so specific to this small windswept island. The naff caravan holidays, novelty museums and crumbling heritage sites is a million miles away from the romanticism of the American equivalents (Bonnie and Clyde et al).

    Co-written by its two pitchperfect stars, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, they capture the two demented lunatics perfectly. He is a deluded control freak who clearly has class issues whilst she, so consumed by their relationship, just wants to please him. The control in the relationship ebbs and flows as they slowly discover more about each other. Like the films of Shane Meadows, Sightseers smartly contrasts humour with sharp, bloody violence. However, the difference here is that even the violence is created to make the audience laugh.

    At first targeting litterbugs and Daily Mail readers soon they are bludgeoning anybody that happens to cross their path. Whilst their indiscriminate killings may be troubling the whole film possesses a darkly comic streak that makes their tour of terror frequently amusing. Thanks to their deranged naivety and keenly observed cultural gags the film features several hilarious moments, most down to the utter absurdity of the events that unfold on screen. Where the film falters slightly is being able to sustain this giddy mix of the macabre and humorous throughout its slender run time. Even though it is a short film its episodic structure can become a little repetitive. However, there is always a brilliant throwaway line or set piece around the corner to stave off boredom but the pacing feels as stop-start as the holiday does.

    Bar the odd unwelcome speed bump along the way, Sightseers, proves to be Wheatley’s best film to date. It delivers the same contradictions and tension that is in all his films but the writing is smarter and sharper (this being the first of his films not penned by the man himself) and the journey just that bit more enjoyable. Now excuse me while I book a trip to the Keswick Pencil Museum.

  • ★★★½ review by Faethor Ferenczy on Letterboxd

    Directed by Ben Wheatley, this black comedy is centred around a couple that decide to go on a remarkably boring sightseeing tour of the UK that include such delights as a tramway museum, a pencil museum, and the Ribblehead Viaduct.

    The woman is played by Alice Lowe and soon discovers that her boyfriend isn't all she thought. He is also a killer who takes great offence at the middle class, litterbugs, and Daily Mail readers. She goes along with it all as she wants him to love her, and even decides to turn killer herself in an effort to impress him.

    On the whole I enjoyed the film although the humour, the references, and all the little quirks are extremely English and I'm not sure how well a lot of it would translate over to the US. I found it relatively entertaining throughout and my attention didn't waver however there were moment that I wondered if the story was actually going anywhere. It's a black comedy which means this is not a film that's going to leave you in hysterics. It's not 'absolutely hilarious' or 'laugh out loud funny' as some of the posters would have you believe. It's a dark drama with some amusing dialogue that may induce a chuckle every now and again. Not that this was a problem as I kind of expected the tone to be exactly how it was. Posters always lie.

    In a way it's quite refreshing to watch a couple of completely banal killers instead of the psychos or charismatic ones we're so used to in the movies. They're a couple of grim individuals with poor social skills who are entertaining us with their sureally dull adventure through England. There's not an awful lot of variety here though, the filmmakers had one trick up their sleeve and pushed that through the film as long as they could before it all ran out of gas. A couple of bloody scenes do spice things up during the film, the acting performances were good and almost uncomfortably realistic, the soundtrack is great, and the film ends when it should.

    As a sidenote, I also enjoyed the scenery, especially the Lake District which always looks beautiful. A lot of the areas filmed were familiar to me as I have frequented them often. My girlfriend also informed me that she's been to the tramway museum which was their first stop. I'm also very interested in visiting that pencil museum. That giant pencil for £25 is a bargain!

    All in all - an entertaining bleak comedy of sorts that really aims itself at a UK audience. Watchable and enjoyable. 7/10

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