Park, pitch & kill. Caravanning into the abyss.
It won’t be long now before the tv/radio ads will be braying out holiday ideas for the 2013 season. We haven’t got through the Christmas holiday yet, but that won’t matter. A potential inspiration to consider while planning a retreat from the hectic battle to survive the current UK government, might be a follow on from the 2012 ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’ campaign and the warped minds that gave us ‘staycations’. and donkey rides on damp windswept stoney beaches.
In keeping with this warpdness, we have the wondrous mind that is Ben Wheatley, who directed one of the best movies of 2011 in ‘Kill List’. Itself a deliberately unsettling journey into the dark recesses of the human mind. This year in the VERY black comedy ‘Sightseers’, he’s bringing us on another journey/staycation into the dark creations of the human mind, such as pencil museums, day trips on vintage trams and caravaning. Which in this movie is the grim reapers chosen mode of transportation.
From the opening scene we are lured into the quintessential middle England, land of grey days and passive aggressive tendencies. Trying to break free from all the parochial negativity is the (apparently) pretty average couple Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) who are venturing on their first holiday at the early stages of their blossoming relationship. Getting away from Tina’s rather domineering (ie evil witch) mum Carol (Eileen Davies) will be a bonus too. It’ll all hopefully enable everyone to get over the recent ‘departure’ of Carol’s pet dog. Carol’s house effectively being a shrine to the dog.
Bedecked in the uniform of the super organised gentle geek, woolly jumper, hiking boots, wind-breaker and woolly knitted crotch-less knickers. The couple head off to follow the string and thumb tacked route of discovery, country side walks and a smidgen of murder. Actually a wee bit more than a smidgen to be honest.
As with the best laid plans, or holiday trip, it doesn’t take long for things to unravel. And in one of the most beautifully observed (not so) passive aggressive responses to a litter bug incident, the movie turns into a slasher road movie, as imagined by Morrissey.
(warning this scene has a swear word in it)
On every level this movie is outstanding. Incredibly observant to the idiosyncratic tendencies of the world it is dealing with, English culture and its character traits, both visually (beautiful scenery etc) and in the script. The writing has to get a special mention too, basically it is stunning. Written by Oram/Lowe, this is what happens when a great song-writer pens a song especially for a particular voice. These characters are almost their very own basic subconscious Id let loose.
The acting is gleefully dark. Though I’m not from these lands, growing up back home in Ireland, we were fully aware of English culture. Knowing all that made the movie a much richer experience, as there are some phenomenal attention to details in the movie, which may be slightly lost on international audiences. But that detailing is a great thing. It’s a wonderfully confident piece of work, and destined to develop a cult following.
There are many wonderful genuine unique dark/crude gems in this movie. In the most beautiful way, it is delightfully vicious in it’s darkness (it does raise the point, that if you think about it, murder is being green and helping recycling), it’s not for the faint of heart. But I don’t want to say why, I want it all be a lovely dark surprise.
I can not praise ‘Sightseers’ enough, it should be given a Heritage Blue Plaque at the earliest opportunity, as it is destined to become, and rightly so, a national treasure. Though said plaque will probably have a spot or two of blood on it. And ultimately, the movie may have the same effect on caravaning, that Jaws had on swimming.
Sightseers is released in the UK on 30th November by StudioCanal.