Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Written by: Alice Lowe & Steve Oram
Starring: Alice Lowe & Steve Oram
SIGHTSEERS can only be described in three words: strange, dark, and hilarious. The plot can pretty much be summed up in one sentence: An oddball couple goes on the holiday that takes a very wrong turn. It’s dark comedy at its darkest and doesn’t shy away from gruesome details. Awkward pauses, some dialogue you have to hear to believe, and savvy British humor with some dirty-minded moments are just a few of the many things that give this film its inherent charm.
Tina is going on holiday with her boyfriend of three months, Chris. Her domineering mother doesn’t trust the bloke and for good reason. It turns out that, though meek and seemingly gentle on the outside, Chris has a mean streak when it comes to people he finds annoying. He can’t stand litter-bugs or entitled snobs. So instead of ignoring them or insulting them, Chris simply does away with them. When Tina finds out about his murderous side, she wants to get in on it as a way to bond and the violent downward spiral begins.
In a unique turn of events the screenwriters of the film actually play the two main characters. Though Steve Oram popped up briefly in THE WORLD’S END, these two don’t seem like big name actors. They certainly showcase the talent for it though. It probably helps that since they wrote the script, the two knew exactly how the characters should act and speak. The effect of many lines of dialogue and absurd moments is nothing short of absolute hilarity.
For a film with a non-conventional narrative and no clear direction of where it’s heading, SIGHTSEERS remains remarkably engaging and interesting. It could be viewed as a character study of the most bizarre murderous couple in the history of cinema. There aren’t any real side-characters who last long (thanks to the homicidal habits of our two protagonists) besides Tina and Chris. The soundtrack also fits the film like a glove.
In terms of the absurdity of it all, SIGHTSEERS almost feels like a Wes Anderson comedy took a darker turn along a fork in the road. That’s pretty much what this film is. There’s also a fair amount of gore throughout. Ben Wheatley is apparently not one to turn the camera away from spurting blood (sometimes in slow motion) and a face that has been repeatedly smashed against a rock until it resembles a mess of blood, pieces of skull, and other gore. With all of this violence and mayhem, some have considered SIGHTSEERS to be a horror-comedy, but I don’t see it that way at all. It’s just an extremely violent road trip movie featuring some odd characters.
The ending is where I can see some people taking issue with SIGHTSEERS, but in all honesty, I thought it was a grand way to send the movie out. It kept the mean-spirited black-as-hell spirit of the story and was the only real logical conclusion that the film could have come to. SIGHTSEERS is a subversive British dark comedy that will entertain those with a strong stomach and a liking for sick humor.