Sightseers is a pitch black comedy which pokes subtle fun at the blandness of middle-England. Director Ben Wheatley’s 2012 film highlights the potential evil lurking under every anorak and behind the wheel of every over-sized caravan.
Sightseers stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram (the film’s writers) as a couple who go on a killing spree throughout some of Britain’s most twee sight-seeing locations. The humour is dark and dry, so dry in-fact, that you’d be hard-pressed to tell it’s a comedy for this first twenty minutes. However, the comedy begins to creep in, poking fun at middle-England and its caravanning sensibilities.
What makes Sightseers work is the reality of it all. People like this exist, sure they may not go on a serial killing rampage, but their moderately educated minds are only a picnic away from carrying out the kind of carnage seen here. Lowe and Oram understand where their characters belong in the pecking order of society. It’s this understanding which brings out the film’s humour, but also much of its poignancy. There’s an inherent sadness running through Sightseers, which strangely mirrors Terrence Malick’s Badlands. However, instead of the boredom of teenage life, Wheatley’s film highlights the monotony of a middle-age existence in the modern world.
Edgar Wright produced Sightseers and his sensibilities come across in the gory violence and the dry deconstruction of English life. The violence or comedy here may not be as cartoonish as that in Wright’s own films as director, but it is good to see that he is using his clout to bring quirky films to the screen.