Outrageously funny British comedy about a duo on a killing spree
Imagine if Mike Leigh had been asked to direct Natural Born Killers or Oliver Stone's talents had been unleashed on a version of Nuts In May. That is the level at which Ben Wheatley's third feature is pitched. A bone dry, very British black comedy, it successfully blends deadpan humour with the kind of shocking violence that is not for the fainthearted. The result is a film that traps the viewer between uneasy laughter, moral queasiness and an odd poignancy.
Acclaimed for his feature debut Down Terrace (re-released this month), Wheatley has swiftly built a reputation as a distinctive British director with a fondness for exposing the angry underbelly of modern life. Caravan-loving Kevin (Steve Oram) and his loyal girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe) are the most deceptively unremarkable characters he has presented us with thus far. Determined to show Tina the world, Kevin has dusted off the cagoules and whisked her away in his caravan to savour the romantic delights of Keswick's Pencil Museum and the Crich Tramway Museum. He knows how to show a girl a good time.
Just like Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom, Kevin and Tina discover that hell is other people and their nasty, ill-mannered, disrespectful little habits. They can't even be trusted to dispense with their litter in a responsible manner. Lethal lessons must be taught and soon the duo are on a killing spree throughout a soggy vision of little England.
Using a screenplay developed by the two actors, Sightseers is often outrageously funny but the shock value diminishes through repetition, the Grand Guignol comedy is broad and the film sometimes feels as if it is patronising the characters rather than embracing them. Inevitably, it loses momentum as the premise runs its course but for a good part of the journey this road movie offers disturbingly good fun.
Selected release from Fri 30 Nov.