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That tired old cliché that expectation is the mother of disappointment is proved true once again by this amusing, inventive but decidedly  slight third feature from Ben Wheatley, the director of last year’s phenomenal ‘Kill List’. Working for the first time from someone else’s script – ‘Sightseers’ was penned by TV acting and writing team Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, with input from Wheatley’s longtime collaborator Amy Jump – Wheatley struggles to put his own stamp on what is inherently flawed material.

Lowe and Oram play Tina and Chris, a new couple who leave cosy Midland suburbia on a caravan tour around some of Northern England’s least prepossessing tourist hotspots – Crich Tramway Village, Blue John Cavern, the Keswick Pencil Museum. But Chris’s fusty, ginger-bearded exterior hides the heart and soul of a ruthless killer, and it’s not long before the sheer, bloody-minded rudeness of the English public has him reaching for the nearest blunt instrument.

There are undoubted high points here – Wheatley’s tried-and-tested knack for coaxing naturalistic, improvisational performances from his actors results in some off-the-cuff hilarity, though Lowe and Oram’s original script presumably contained its fair share of zingers. The bleak mood – familiar to anyone who’s suffered a low-rent English holiday-from-hell – is beautifully sustained, thanks to Wheatley’s unerring eye for a crumbling ruin or a spot of flaky paintwork.

But the film never really settles into a comfortable style – it’s never quite funny enough to be comedy or quite nasty enough to be horror, and the goofy breadth of the characterisation means that it’s too blunt for satire (though a few sideswipes at our current austerity hell are well placed). We simply never care about either Chris or Tina, even as anti-heroes. Worst of all, the episodic, busy nature of the script means that Wheatley only occasionally gets the chance to spread his wings. One early sequence on a cliff face is stunning, fusing image, music and material to intoxicating effect, but it’s never repeated.

‘Sightseers’ is a film to file alongside the likes of ‘Somers Town’ by Shane Meadows and Michael Winterbottom’s ‘A Cock and Bull Story’: a diverting, enjoyable but not entirely successful experiment, and a minor film from a major director. Someone, get this man a proper budget.

By: Tom Huddleston


Release details

Release date: Friday November 30 2012
Duration: 0 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ben Wheatley
Screenwriter: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Cast: Alice Lowe
Steve Oram

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
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Very disappointed with Sightseers, especially after reading all the great reviews it has had, and the 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes ! Are these reviewers on some kind of payroll ? Do they think they are somehow saving the British movie industry by hyping up any piece of shite that comes along ? Based on a flimsy idea to begin with, it is the movie equivalent of a polished turd ! If you like laughing at autistic people with learning difficulties randomly murdering people you might be entertained by this film. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE - save your money and don't watch this embarrassment to British movies !

This is a really disappointing film. I felt like sueing the reviewers they use on the poster. This is deciededly very unfunny, badly acted, and felt like media studies students had taken a camera off on holiday with a bunch of friends too stoned to make anything. The audeince I was in only laughed 3 times.I was most surprised to read afterwards that the 2 leads actually wrote this nonsense, as there was not much chemistry between them.The people here who give it 4 stars either had money in it or need to get a decent sense of humour. Just bad, bad ,bad.

Quirky, amusing, very British road movie, Runs out of fuel towards the end but for the most part it`s a refreshing delight. Three and a half stars,

Had been looking forward to seeing this film for some time - after 2 failed attempts we finally managed it. I wanted to walk out after the first half hour but didn't want to give in - so wished I had. Agree with TM - excessively violent - so unnecessary. A few funny bits but ultimately it was a disappointing waste of time.

seems the guardinistas hasve strayed onto time out .. lets just review films by watching the need foe opinions when prejudices will suffice..and this film is two bob

To Ian i dont know if you meant what you said the way you have typed it but "Imagine an ultra violent Tarantino film but in a caravan in a very wet and dreary north west of england". It aint that dreary up here and as for the film if you dont like it i probably will

To Ian i dont know if you meant what you said the way you have typed it but "Imagine an ultra violent Tarantino film but in a caravan in a very wet and dreary north west of england". It aint that dreary up here and as for the film if you dont like it i probably will

An average film, though it is very funny in places. Like Kill List, I think it lost its way as it went on. It is excessively violent – a shame really, as the violence could be implied.

Agree with the reviewer there are high spots but too many low spots to make it a good or enjoyable film experience. Imagine an ultra violent Tarantino film but in a caravan in a very wet and dreary north west of england. A disappointing 5 out of 10. 2 stars.

Very overrated .. its as if British films are given 2 stars to begin with the directors first two films showed promise but this was self indulgent the actors wrote it and it seemed they were making it up as they filmed it I laughed 3 and a half times .. not a great run rate for a comedy while i watched this i imagined WHAT someone like Julia Davis could do with this material .. about 100% better

Waste of time and waste of money. Definitely the worst film I ve seen this year.