This tale of two holidaying British serial killers sharpened director Ben Wheatley’s gift for combining shocks with delicious, pitch-black humour.
Imagine Mike Leigh’s TV play classic Nuts in May by way of the 1970 cult favourite The Honeymoon Killers, with its lovers on US killing spree, and you’re pretty close to the tone of Ben Wheatley’s hugely entertaining follow-up to Kill List. His love of visceral thrills remains, but the darker tone of his early work is combined with a knockabout humour, courtesy of Alice Lowe and Steve Oram’s screenplay. They play Chris and Tina, a couple who take their caravan around the English countryside. The ‘accidental’ killing of a tourist in a road accident sparks a shift in the dynamic of their vacation and both soon delight in the murder of any annoying person they encounter. At the same time, Tina worries about her future with Chris. Is he really the one? Or is her interest in him just a bloody distraction from life with her mother?
Oram and Lowe are superb as the killer couple – their bloody antics a stark contrast to the pastoral quietude of the surroundings in which their killing take place. And Wheatley wisely keeps the tone light, even when Chris and Tina let rip with their frenzied bloodlust. Along with Wheatley’s Kill List and his subsequent A Field in England, Sightseers makes up what might just be the most eccentric cinematic triptych of English life.