Sightseers (2012) British Black Comedy Caravan Style


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I watched this film after reading a brilliant review by Natasha on Films and Things. I’d not heard of the film, but, as it was directed by Ben Wheatley (creator of the brilliant film Kill List and Down Terrace) and I am an unabashed fanboy of this brilliant new film director, I decided to give it a go.

The film starts with Chris (Steve Oram) taking his new girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe) on an introductory trip to his world; the world of caravanning. Tina’s mother Β (wonderfully played by Eileen Davies) doesn’t like Chris or trust him. It turns out that she is pretty much spot on with her character assessment of Chris.

Although he obviously adores Tina, he is, in fact, a serial killer and has been eliminating people who irritate him since his redundancy six months ago. Tina, doesn’t know this at first, but getting caught up in the action, becomes an over enthusiastic accomplice.

Director Ben Wheatley again shows the deft touch that is his trademark and he allowed the two main characters plenty of opportunity to free wheel their scenes. It works wonderfully. Oram, Lowe, and Wheatley get together to tell us that all the things we imagined about caravaners is true. In fact, it’s worse than we thought; these people aren’t just odd, they’reΒ murderous.

Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, aka Tina and Chris.
Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, aka Tina and Chris.

The humour is of the blackest sort and quite droll in most places. Chris’s penchant for killing those that irritate the living hell out of him is very funny (and not a little bit scary, it must be said) and most of his victims are very deserving of their fate.

Sightseers began as a stage comedy “skit” thought up by the two (Oram and Lowe) after they discussed childhood experiences in the world of the caravan holiday makers. This skit was performed regularly and it led to the decision to attempt a screenplay. With everyone they approached declining to make the film as it was considered “too dark;” they eventually got Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, et al) to green light the project.

Ben Wheatley wisely allowed Steve and Alice to improvise a lot of their scenes as they were the authors of the material and due to repeated performances of the skit knew their characters inside and out. It makes the film something special to watch. You also come away from the film realising that it is possible to produce a work that, despite its shoestring budget, looks great.

After seeing the film, I realised two things; that I was an even bigger fan of Wheatley (if that’s possible) and I now adored Alice Lowe. While Oram was outstanding as the monumentally screwed up Chis, it was Lowe who impressed the hell out of me. This is her film really and the character of Tina, who is just as messed up mentally as Chris, but on a different level, was hysterically funny.

There is a scene early on in the film with a Jack Russell dog and a pair of oversized knitting needles that made me laugh so long and hard that I had to stop the film and rewind it. I’d missed a lot of action because of that one scene.

A definite 5 out of 5 stars for a British black comedy that will tickle your dark humour funny bone.

Blackly funny.

*Filmfans in America will now be able to enjoy this English gem as the film has a release date of 10 May 2013 in the US.*

Tina (Alice Lowe) and Banjo/Poppy.
Tina (Alice Lowe) and Banjo/Poppy.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

30 thoughts on “Sightseers (2012) British Black Comedy Caravan Style”

  1. My googling for all things Caravan related very rarely bring up anything out of the ordinary. That has all changed today. I was just googling the word “Caravan” and came across your site Mike and especially this Caravan film! I must see this film. I will try and get hold of a copy or see if it on Netflix. Thank you for reviewing it otherwise I would have missed it entirely. Also thanks for reviewing it positively, which actually makes me want to watch it. (I don’t just watch anything with the word Caravan in..) πŸ™‚ Cheers, Tony.

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      1. I watched this last night, it was a really good watch, if a little disturbing in places. Very well made. Definitely a nominee for a cult status film this. Also left the door wide open for a sequel too πŸ™‚ Cheers again MIke! Regards, Tony.

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  2. Sounds great. Kurt the Vonn died and I thought black humor flew out the open door of the birdcage. The Coens have saved me a few times, but my CD wallet of them and Kubrick isn’t going to last forever.
    Later…

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  3. Been meaning to watch this one. It’s been out on DVD in the UK for a while now. I enjoyed Kill List, even if the ending was a bit “out there”.

    If you like Alice Lowe, Mike, I recommend the British TV comedy, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. A homage to bad TV and even worse movies, made as if it were created in the 1980s, where she plays a nurse.

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  4. Great review and glad you liked it as much as I did!
    Lowe was hysterical!! Her in her weird knitted underwear had me in stitches!
    As funny as the dog/nitting needle scene was I couldn’t have watched it more than once the noise made me cringe!

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    1. God! The underwear was hysterical!! I guess I’m just weird or cruel, I loved that as much as the scene in Just Married where the dog jumps out an open window chasing a ball (to his death). It’s that sort of horrified laughter and I applaud them for the thinking of it! LOL

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      1. I know right xD I was watching it with my family when I was home for Easter and me and mum were nearly in tears at that bit xD They weren’t that impressed with the film…but they don’t have much taste πŸ˜‰
        Oh the dog scene was hilarious don’t get me wrong, I just can’t cope with those icky sound effects!! I’m not so good with gore any more xD

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