May 10, 2013
Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Amy Jump
Alice Lowe as Tina
Steve Oram as Chris
Kill List was a dark, taut picture that kept the eyes glued to the screen; A Field in Englandwas the creepiest acid trip of a movie I’ve ever seen; Sightseers is black comedy, horror gold. Ben Wheatley is a ridiculously talented gent who seems to own a thorough understanding of film mechanics and what it takes to connect with an audience. To say the man is a quality filmmaker is actually something of an injustice: This dude is an absolute monster with a vision all his own. Sightseers totally and completely supports that statement.
Quirky from the jump, this wonderfully unorthodox tale follows a 30-something couple as they embark on a lengthy road trip. Chris is a writer who has run into writer’s block, and he’s looking for inspiration. He’s also looking to build upon a young relationship with Tina, the strangest quasi-recluse in the UK. It’s an awkward pairing from the jump, but things become profoundly complicated when the ticks in Chris’ personality begin to boil to the surface. At first, it’s a discarded piece of litter that sets the man off, leading to an accidental murder that seems to sit well with the awkward chap. Before long, the murders aren’t so accidental, and Tina, a woman of easy encouragement doesn’t do too much hesitation in following Chris’ homicidal ways. The only relevant question that builds as the pic progresses is: What in the world will become of these two?
I don’t think I can praise Ben Wheatley enough. Today he stands where supreme talents like James Wan, Darren Lynn Bousman, Ti West and Adam Green stood just a few years back: He’s the future of this genre. Inventive, daring and completely open to the nonconformist approach, he does what he wants, without the concern of studio big wigs or audience hesitation. The man has a joyful knack for blending outright crime and dark, dark horror and it’s paying off in impressive fashion. This is the kind of director who gains an extremely loyal following because he’s in this game for himself. Wheatley obviously wants to create jarring films that can be enjoyed by a wide range of personality types, and it’s certainly working. He’s an inventor, if you will. When a film drops, and you see the name Ben Wheatley affixed to the credits, expect something legitimately special, and no matter what the circumstances, track it down.
As for the cast… Wow: Hats off! Steve Oram is supremely convincing as a sociopathic/psychopathic/lost soul. This guy just can’t seem to steer the ship in the proper direction, and he appears to be on a constant mission to find and understand his place in the world. He’s as creepy as he is charming and those polarizing traits make for a highly engaging character to study. The same could be said for Alice Lowe, who takes socially awkward to new heights. Hell, she takes awkward to new heights, forget socially awkward. She’s an odd bird and it’s entirely convincing. Together, the two play remarkably well off one another. The give and take, push and pull of their personalities is quite magnetic. As a viewer, you just never know exactly what to expect from these two, which keeps the audience teetering on the brink, anticipating, but unsure of the duo’s next maneuver. There are a handful of other fantastic supporting performers, but it’s time to refrain from issuing everyone and their mother praise. I’d like to wrap this review before 2014 arrives.
Sightseers is a truly original film that emerges head and shoulders above a sea of standardized genre pieces. When it comes to original content, this is a feature that offers such in spades. Prepare for some very gratifying cinematography, incredible onscreen performances; a great story with heaping portions of dark laughs, some surprisingly graphic gore and a brilliant finale. You can’t ask for much more of a film, and after checking out Sightseers you probably won’t be asking for much more of anything other than a second serving.