Director: Ben Wheatley
Verdict: Not half bad
I’ve talked at length before about my abounding affection for Ben Wheatley, the fact that I just love him so much almost as an idea of a filmmaker more than a filmmaker himself and I think this is true of Sightseers as well.
Sightseers follows the capers of two caravan holiday makers afflicted with a very British form of madness, and a dog who may or may not be called Banjo.
Sightseers started life as a stand-up routine that it’s two leads and co-writers, Alice Lowe, (Prevenge , Hot Fuzz, Locke), and Steve Oram, (The World’s End, Paddington), used to perform in which they’d be talking to each-other jovially and just refer offhandedly to murders they may have committed. Based on that it’s impressive that this isn’t just an extended version of that. The film is short, and light on narrative it’s true but it is incredibly cinematic due to the touch of master-of-the-deranged-montage Ben Wheatley, (Kill List, High-Rise) and some characterful writing from the dastardly duo themselves and additional material from regular Wheatley collaborator Amy Jump. It’s actually interesting that such a singular director famous for his horror/thriller work has taken on a film so very personal to other people that’s sort of comedy-horror, and then it’s surprising just how much Ben Wheatley there is in this project. Of course this can be explained by looking at Ben Wheatley’s back catalogue in television which is made up of a good deal of comedy work so he was well suited to take on such a darkly funny piece. Which this very much is, the murder scenes are some of the funniest. It has a real sort of Hot Fuzz vibe.
Don’t be fooled by it’s genre trappings and roots in stand-up, not that there’s anything wrong with that, Lowe and Oram provide a characterful, endearing couple, (well Lowe at least in endearing in a not-all-there sense). There’s also, like so much of Wheatley’s work, thematic substance to be eaten into and a really fantastic ending. It won’t stay with you long term like something like Kill List or A Field in England, but it’s still not a minor note in the Wheatley back catalogue and well worth a look.