Sightseers (2012)

Starring: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davis, Monica Dolan, Jonathon Aris, Richard Lumsden, Tony Way

Directed by: Ben Wheatley

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

Tina (Alice Lowe) and Chris (Steve Oram) in Sightseers

You know that thing where you go on holiday with your boyfriend for the first time, and you find out all kinds of things about him you never knew. And then you have to decide whether these new habits are something you can tolerate, or not.

Sightseers is about that.

The first time Ian and I went on holiday together was the 2nd Whitby Goth Festival in 1995. (I know...) On that holiday, I discovered that, while I like to be out exploring, shopping and eating scones in dinky tearooms, Ian likes to sleep. A lot.

I decided I could live with this.

When frustrated thirty-four-year-old Tina (Alice Lowe) escapes her passive-aggressive mother to go caravanning for a week with new boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram) she finds out he's a serial killer.

She too decides she can live with this. Not only that, she positively embraces her lover's unconventional hobby, revelling in her new-found freedom to hit the road, caravan in tow, see the sights, have sex in lay-bys, steal dogs and bump off anyone who gets in her way. She's 'out of the box', as she puts it, and she's not going back in again. Be afraid, people of Yorkshire and the Lakes...

Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) in Sightseers

A cross between Natural Born Killers and Steve Coogan's The Trip, filmed on location around the scenes of my summer holidays – the Blue John Caverns, Fountains Abbey, the Pencil Museum (home of the world's largest pencil) – may sound a little far-fetched but in fact Sightseers is wonderfully convincing. Written by its co-stars, the script crackles with flat Northern wit, like a very wrong soap bubble episode of Corrie, delivered in deadpan Brummie accents. We all know tourist like Chris and Tina, with their walking boots, fleeces and anoraks, tacky souvenirs, maps and itineraries. In fact, Ian and I are scarily like Chris and Tina – just without the deranged psyches and, you know, the murdering...

Mordantly funny, shocking, gripping and black as the Devil's Arse (that's a cave in Derbyshire, FYI), Sightseers is a marvellous, off the wall, utterly British movie. Rich in sex and slaughter, with a horrible inevitability to it that only makes it all the more enjoyable, it's Shallow Grave meets Rita, Sue and Bob Too, American Werewolf with caravans, creating sympathetic characters from psychopathic monsters – you have, after all, to show respect for a man who straps on his gaiters before heading up a crag to kill an annoying smug married.

I loved director Ben Wheatley's last feature, the Mike Leigh meets Robin Hardy gritty rural gothic thriller Kill List, and had high hopes for Sightseers. I certainly wasn't disappointed. So lace up your hiking boots and head to the cinema for a trip you won't forget. Giant pencil optional...

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