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Sightseers: Death and the Caravan

January 22, 2014

Sightseers movie poster

Sightseers is violent, frequently bleak and beautiful to look at. It features fully fleshed out characters and a macabre sense of humor. It is the story of two people traveling around the UK causing mayhem. Sightseers is impossible to recommend to causal viewers and adds another fantastic film to Ben Wheatley’s filmography.

Sightseers is like Natural Born Killers but with two milquetoast murderers. Steve Oram and Alice Lowe do fantastic work as the two road tripping killers who come out of their shells. They inhabit the characters with ease and you can tell there is a familiarity. The two stars came up with the characters when they created a short film intended to become a television show. After it was deemed too bleak they were put in contact with Edgar Wright who got director Ben Wheatley on board.

Sightseers became a hit on the festival circuit, was praised by Empire and played at Cannes. The trio did an neat interview with BFI and Lowe had this to say about the film:

We wanted to take the stereotype of British tourism, which has this extremely polite veneer, and do something that confounded that. But we didn’t want to make a light, murder comedy – we wanted it to have some psychological veracity, and to challenge people. We knew the characters had to have realistic psychologies for you to be willing to go with them on their journey. The whole movie is essentially about two damaged people coming together, triggering something in one another and becoming more than the sum of their parts.

The two people are damaged indeed. The are selfish, insane and have never heard of impulse control. They are playing god because they’ve never had control in their lives. Their styles differ greatly but there is an odd attraction amongst the dysfunction. Nothing good can come from the relationship and there is no way there will be a happy ending.

Sightseers

Sightseers goes so far over the top with its murder it becomes darkly funny. Lowe’s character Tina is a powder keg of mom jeans and chaos. If the performance wasn’t so self-assured you’d be stuck with bleak piled on an insane unpalatable sandwich. However, you kinda understand her which makes the mayhem laughable . Wheatley admitted that:

 As a viewer you should be going from laughter to feeling guilty and back to laughter again.

A sense of dread imbues Sightseers which combines with the dark humor and beautiful vistas to form a weird hybrid of turmoil, darkness and comedy. Sightseers like Kill List and Down Terrace are impossible to explain. They are draining yet rewarding. There is brilliance to the violence that makes them so likable.

Watch Sightseers. Appreciate the characters. Look forward to Ben Wheatley’s next film. Buy a Carapod.

Carapod

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2014 3:10 pm

    To me, this one felt like too much of a one-joke premise, stretched way beyond its means. Didn’t mean it wasn’t funny or done in a different way every once and awhile, but it just wasn’t always pleasing. Good review.

    • January 22, 2014 3:15 pm

      I totally get what you are saying. I loved the progression of Alice Lowe’s character though. She became really scary to me. Like a powder keg of insanity and repression. I loved how the actors inhabited the characters. I was able to stick with the one-joke premise because of it. Definitely not for everyone.

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