Saturday, 20 April 2013

Death Has A Ginger Beard

‘Sightseers’ is, in many ways, the perfect ‘Island of Terror’ film. It’s dark and funny and its locations are camp sites, roadside cafes, ruined abbeys, viaducts, slate mines, owl sanctuaries, tram and pencil museums, show caves and stone circles. I got excited just typing that. It’s also very good, not perfect, but something that I am more than happy to recommend to anybody who likes the idea of a film that combines sudden death and National Trust properties.

Angry Tina and ginger faced Chris are a couple of downtrodden misfits who set out on a ‘sexual odyssey’/ road trip across the North of England.  In a caravan. Compulsive knitter Tina (Alice Lowe) is happy to escape her oppressive and manipulative mother, who blames her for the death of their beloved dog, Poppy. Heavily bearded plastics nerd Chris (Steve Oram) is apparently writing a book, and Tina is to be his muse. As they set off, Tina says ‘show me your world’, barely realising that Chris’ world is a strange and violent one, and that he uses murder as a way of getting his own back on litterers, snobs and people who are more successful than him.

Mordantly funny, extravagantly bloody, the film was scripted by Lowe and Oram but many of the scenes are improvised, and this lends immediacy and realism to the film, an approach consolidated by director Ben Wheatley, who shoots on the hoof, capturing some wonderful scenery and, in particular, some truly awful weather, both of which add immeasurably to both the veracity and the atmosphere (it never rains, but it pours, and when it isn’t pouring, it’s hailing). It’s rare to see Britain presented like this, but I like it: the banality and beauty of our sceptered isle in all its damp glory – an ancient and primeval landscape criss crossed by motorways and studded with brown heritage road signs indicating points of (selective) interest.  

If you’ve ever wanted to see a woman write a letter with a four foot long pencil, or see crotchless knitted lingerie, then you won’t be disappointed. A great little film, I love it.

Incidentally, Ben Wheatley’s next film is called ‘A Field In England’, and is, apparently, a tale of hallucogenic drugs and necromancy set during the English Civil War. I can’t wait.


  1. Fabulous isn't it? Much better than Kill List and in a different field altogether to Down Terrace. I did a mini post on it over Easter.

  2. The best film of 2012 for me

    I was very impressed by Down Terrece and I really enjoyed Kill List and I think I would have appreciated a whole lot more if I wasn't so familiar with a certain cult British horror film that mustn't be mentioned in conjunction for fear of giving the game away.

    Can't wait for A Field In England!

  3. Enjoyed this a great deal. As a child of rural North England, I was endlessly taken to visit all the places in this film (and many, many more). Very nice to see the murders that I daydreamed about -to pass the time- coming to life on the screen.

    I can certainly recommend taking psychedelic drugs on Civil War battlefields, and also have very high hopes for ‘A Field In England’

  4. Both sides of my family come from Crich and I could clearly see my father's old family home in one scene. The whole Crich Tramway Museum (they call it 'Village' now but it will always be 'Museum' to me) section of the movie was pure delight and the rest of Sightseers was pretty damn golden too.

  5. Been looking fprward to seeing this. Hopefully should get a copy this week. Saw the preview and just liked the look of it. Rain Giant pencils Caravans National Trust sites more rain. I can't wait for it to turn up this week.