Director Ben Wheatley slammed into my world last year. His Kill List topped my list of the best horror of 2011, and quickly became “the” filmmaker to watch. Keeping his festival run afloat, Wheatley’s black comedy Sightseers screened with much anticipation at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unfortunately, what works so well in Kill List is what ultimately tanks this genre film.
Sightseers follows a relatively young couple – Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) – who take a journey through the British Isles in Abbey Oxford Caravan. Chris is quickly pushed over the edge and the vacation becomes littered with dead bodies.
Sightseers is Wheatley’s version of Natural Born Killers or God Bless America, only instead of taking on the media and pop culture, he focuses on the elitist and self-absorbed attitudes of today’s youth. After beating someone’s head in with a stick, Chris is quick to point out that people get away with being pieces of sh*t and nobody does anything to stop them (basically they get away with “murder”, so to speak).
Wheatley’s message is clear and focused, only his decision to keep it snail-paced is what gums up the entertainment. While Kill List‘s pace is all about the impact finale, Sightseers is supposed to be a comedy with some energy. If anything, there’s no energy here, albeit, plenty of shocking moments fierce with impact. And it’s not very funny.
While Sightseers is beautifully made, and features rock solid performances by the entire cast, it just sort of falls a bit flat. The joke gets a bit old, quickly, and while there’s some juxtaposing between Tina and Chris, the message doesn’t have much impact post the initial kill. Sightseers may be worth a glance, but it’s not a place you’d visit again.