SIGHSEERS - REVIEW
Released: May 2012
Dir: Ben Wheatley
My Rating: 4 Stars
I know too much about this film than I ever wanted. I could probably name every major scene, what happened in it, it’s significance to the plot/character development and something about the mise-en-scene. If you ever wondered whether you can compare boring people doing murders to scottish people doing drugs, the answer is yes!
Although, as much as I hated doing essays on it, Sightseers is honestly a really good film, one of the better ones I studied. It follows a couple, Chris and Tina, as they go on a caravan murder-spree holiday. It’s basically what would happen if Natural Born Killers took place in Cumbria. Or Natural Born Caravans.
To start on the main characters, Chris and Tina are probably some of the most pathetic serial killers in film, tied with any serial killer biopic and Patrick Bateman. The films tagline of “Killers have never been so average” really fits. I’ve probably seen hundreds of Chris’ and Tina’s just walking through the town centre. Chris is a recently redundant aspiring writer who considers Tina his muse, but given he does more killing than writing I wouldn’t consider him a writer at all.
As I said before, the film follows the couple on a murder-spree caravan holiday, with the murders themselves being pretty impressive. From running over a man for littering to beating someone to death for being posh, the kills, and motives for them, are pretty entertaining. The kills are also evenly distributed between Chris and Tina, showing that the film supports both women’s rights and women’s wrongs. There isn’t really much blood or gore, apart from a shot of a guy’s head smashed in, but the weird humour in it makes them memorable.
Sightseers is also endlessly quotable. When I rewatched it I ended up quoting half of the lines from the film for days on end (“You’re running away from your GUILT!”, “Mystery, Tina is a woman’s sanctuary”, “He’s not a person, he’s a Daily Mail reader!”). Given that the film is a dark comedy, it’s hardly surprising that there are some jokes in it, but the film really is pretty funny.
The film is also massively British, from the archetypes of the characters, humour, and places they visit. Some people might recognize Tina (Alice Lowe) from Horrible Histories, Chris (Steve Oram) from End of the Fucking World and Ian (Jonathan Aris) from Sherlock and also End of the Fucking World. Chris and Tina also visit such exciting places as the Keswick Pencil Museum, Ribblehead Viaduct and the National Tramway Museum, all of which are incredibly boring, yet accurate, showcases of the highlights of Cumbria. That being said, them going to a load of National Trust and English Heritage sites would have been so much worse, by the 5th murder in a castle you'd be bored. The Pencil Museum is a particular highlight of the film, as Tina buys “The Big Scribbler”, a massive pencil that someone in my film class once referred to as her “phallic friend”. Film studies is extremely strange.
Sightseers is honestly a surprisingly enjoyable film that has memorable kills and characters, even if they are from Birmingham. If you enjoy slasher films that are more than just “axe man kills people” then you’ll probably enjoy this, and even if you don’t like slasher films, the film is worth it for the horrifying sight of knitted lingerie.