Today: April 22, 2024
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Sightseers

Tina (co-writer Alice Lowe) has led something of a sheltered life.

Tina
(co-writer Alice Lowe) has led something of a sheltered life
. Now in her thirties and still living at
home with her elderly, infirm mother in the Midlands, she’s
just entered into a relationship with new boyfriend Chris (co-writer Steve Oram) and he’s determined to show
her his world – by taking her on an idyllic caravanning holiday sightseeing
around the North of England and showing her all it’s wonders; the Crich Tramway
Village, Keswick Pencil Museum, Ribblehead Viaduct.

Unfortunately, Chris has a few anger management issues and a
tendency to murder at the drop of a wooly bobble hat anyone who offends his
sensibilities from litterbugs to people with nicer caravans. The complacent Tina’s not the sharpest
knife in the drawer – her attempt at talking dirty by telling Chris she’s not
wearing knickers is spoiled by her wearing tights, her idea of sexy lingerie is
a crotchless knitted bra and pants set – but, when she discovers Chris is a
serial killer, she stands by her man first rationalising his murders then
playing an active part, the bodies mounting up and their relationship
deteriorating as they tour England’s beauty spots.

Smug and nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is, Ben
Wheatley’s follow-up to Satanic hit man thriller Kill List is closer to his vastly over-rated gangster debut Down Terrace, a pikey Sopranos by way of Mike Leigh. Written by
its actors (with additional input from Wheatley’s wife and producer Amy Jump), Sightseers has that suffocating, pleased with itself feel you
always get with films where the actors have been allowed to “improv” at the
expense of the script.

Chris and Tina are a pair of grotesques; horrific
wool-knitted caricatures with comedy Midlands accents rather than actual
characters. They’re not people,
they’re a ragbag of actors tics, an escaped sketch show. One moment Chris is murdering someone
because they’re an ill-mannered litterbug, the next he’s smashing in the head
of a walker who asks Tina to scoop the poop of the dog he’s stolen for her.
There’s no consistency to the characters or to the script, and certainly no
development.

Sure, the brutally comic killings and some of the dialogue
are sporadically funny and will make you bark with laughter but the film feels
half-baked. It’s episodic, runs
out of steam around the halfway mark and is reduced to ridiculous sight gags (a
sad Tina writing a postcard with a giant 4-foot pencil at the Keswick Pencil
Museum). It’s nasty without being clever enough to be a satire. It’s funny without being hilarious, has
horror movie elements but never quite convinces. After the first murder nothing much really happens. They steal a dog and kill a couple more
ciphers. Sightseers is a film where nothing is at stake and nothing
matters. The protagonists aren’t
particularly likeable and the only thing you care less about than them is their
victims who are barely even thumbnail sketches. You don’t give a shit about them, why should you? Wheatley and his team don’t, why should
you?

Sightseers,
like the holiday it depicts, is violent, amusing and ultimately a little
boring.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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