'Sightseers' Cannes Review: 'Kill List' Director Returns with Tale About One Couple with Sick Fantasies

'Sightseers' Cannes Review: 'Kill List' Director Returns with Tale About One Couple with Sick Fantasies

May 23, 2012

The song "Tainted Love" bangs during the opening credits of Sightseers. At first it seems out of place, but you'll eventually realize it's the perfect fit. The film is directed by Ben Wheatley (Kill List) and written by the stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe. They play Chris and Tina, a couple who goes on a road trip in a caravan across the British Isles. Before they can get out the door, Tina must leave her demanding mother behind. Then, once on the road, things take a turn for the worst when we start to see Chris' true colors.

A man litters, and that sets Chris off. He rants and raves, with Tina hoping they can just enjoy themselves at the odd little museum stops they make along the way. Tina can't calm him down, but a horrific accident at the expense of another human seems to put Chris right at ease. Now, if you've seen Kill List you know Wheatley has no problem diving off the deep, dead end. There is so much comedy in the beginning of the film that you aren't sure if Sightseers is going to that dark place. After all, Chris has a novel he wants to write, Tina is finally out of the house, and Wheatley makes sure the landscape looks beautiful. It's to the point where you might even envy this three-month-old couple's holiday. Heck, even the Keswick Pencil Museum looks like a pretty good time.

Chris starts mumbling to the trees that they won't belittle his five-year-plan, and what becomes of this film brings to mind elements of Falling Down and Natural Born Killers. Eventually Chris states clearly what he wants in life. It's simple, and while still funny, dark. Perhaps Tina, his muse, is exactly the one to help him through life. I loved the performances from everyone in this film, especially Lowe who comes across as a sheltered teenager searching for love, and a moral compass.

The fact that the two lead actors wrote this film brings to mind so many questions I can't wait to find the answers to. Are they an actual couple that has these sick fantasies? Did a road trip turn south? I hope to hell they didn't lose a dog the way the film showcases. Here's a tease in that regard. Keep your eyes on the knitting needles. I won't give away any of the other bloody excitement, or dead-pan comedy that will take away the surprises of Sightseers. [Random side note: "Season of the Witch" is played twice during this film, during Dark Shadows and Paranorman's trailer. It's leading the "most used song of 2012" from my calculations.]

I can't wait to see his first film Down Terrace and everything to come from Wheatley. Sightseers isn't quite as insane as Kill List, yet somehow it is crazier. Chris and Tina's whacked out relationship is something to enjoy, fear and rewatch.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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