Sightseers - a Tarantino Nuts in May
‘Evil has a knitted jumper,’ runs one of the taglines for Sightseers, the newly released comedy horror about a caravanning couple on a murder spree around the beauty spots of Britain. It certainly does. And a bobble hat, sensible boots and, um, a homemade knitted bra and knicker set. And a giant pencil.
Sightseers is the dysfunctional tale of an odd but seemingly harmless new couple, Chris and Tina, who go off for their first holiday together around Britain in Chris’s Abbey caravan, against the dire warnings of Tina’s horrible mum, still mourning the untimely demise of their dog Poppy.
The trip starts out normally enough, apart from the slightly loopy tinge already evident around Chris and Tina, but happily it soon takes a nicely sinister tone with the introduction of annoying sightseers, irritating caravanners and Thoroughly Horrid Types. You know the sort. Not that you’d actually murder them – heaven forbid – but you’re fairly confident that no court in the land would convict you if you did.
Being enraged by inconsiderate fellow travellers was done brilliantly in Mike Leigh's Nuts in May, but unlike its heroes Keith and Candice Marie, the Sightseers couple prove to be somewhat more assertive in their challenging of bad manners. Incandescent at a litter lout at the Crich Tramway Museum, Chris manages to ‘accidentally’ run him over, complaining afterwards that the litter dropper has ‘bloody ruined Crich Tramway Museum for me’. Well, quite.
Tina fully agrees, and so the pair go on their murderous path, meeting many annoying camping and countryside stereotypes along the way: shamans dancing and playing music in the adjoining ‘yurt field’ (‘They’re from Portsmouth,’ says the resigned campsite owner); a hiker loudly vocal about the sanctity of National Trust land, and a smug middle-class caravanning couple (‘Shoes off please, I just saw you come out of the toilet block,’ posh Ian says when Chris asks if he can see inside their vastly superior caravan.) The conclusion, Sightseers implies, is that some people just ask for it.
Alongside their blood-spattered spree, the couple go to some of the best-known attractions in the north of England, such as Mother Shipton’s Cave, Fountains Abbey and – silent cheer from us – Keswick’s Pencil Museum. You’ll know you’re a true geek if you look at the attractions and landscapes of a murder film and start revising your Must Go To travel list – and we won’t even mention the excited squeak uttered at the appearance of the ‘carapod’.
Sightseers was directed by Ben Wheatley, who’s been described both as ‘Alfred Hitchcock meets Mike Leigh’ and ‘somewhere between Joe Orton and The Wicker Man’ – we’ll class the film itself as Nuts in May as directed by Quentin Tarantino. It’s hard to decide what the best bit of watching it was. Perhaps it was the couple storming out of the cinema in a huff half an hour in, just as Chris on screen made disparaging reference to Daily Mail readers. Perhaps it was finally finding out what caused Poppy’s tragic demise. But on reflection, it might have been the knitted bra and knicker set.