splendidly dark and unapologetically quirky, Sightseers is a comedy film masquerading as a horror flick – or a horror flick camouflaged within a comedy.
Either way, it’s another winner from Ben Wheatley, the writer/director behind Kill List, and explores at least some similar territory as two psychos emerge from their shells during – wait for it – a caravanning holiday.
Wallflower Tina (Alice Lowe) and mysterious new man friend Chris (Steve Oram) are two lonely losers who embark on an “erotic odyssey” around northern England. Their chosen method: caravan.
But when Chris kills a man in an argument over littering it becomes clear that he’s far from normal. What’s more, childlike Tina seems to be cut from the same cloth. And as any minor slight is rewarded with murder, so these two miscreants carve a bloody path through the UK’s tourist sites.
Think Kit and Holly from Badlands, and Sightseers makes a great deal of sense. Based on a largely improvised script by Oram and Lowe, it cleverly builds their personas as unhinged killers while always balancing the gore with humour.
Fans of the horror genre will see nods to a string of films but there is also much originality to the piece. Oram and Lowe emerge as wholly believable unbalanced lunatics, thus adding an unsettling dimension to this offbeat travelogue.
Working not from his own screenplay but from someone else’s, Wheatley straddles horror and humour with a nod and a wink to both. Never veering too far in either direction, he manages to keep what might have been an off-kilter project firmly on course. In doing so, he satisfies comedy fans with a predilection for darkness and horror fans that enjoy a giggle. This is no Shaun of the Dead. It’s much harder than that.