Ben Wheatley, the film director whose previous movies Down Terrace and Kill List have established him a key figure in British filmmaking, is back with his latest film, the black comedy Sightseers. Even before its UK release this week, the film has landed seven nominations for the forthcoming British Independent Film Awards.
Sightseers stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe as an odd couple whose dream caravan holidays takes a very wrong turn. Though predominately a comedy, Sightseers features liberal amounts of extreme violence perhaps more suited to Wheatley's horror flick Kill List. "We were cautious not to make it too malicious or vicious. It's violent - and some of it's red raw - but it doesn't slip too far into the really heavy misery of Kill List. It pulls back before it really upsets the audience. I wanted them to laugh!" Wheatley explained to the BBC. The movie has impressed critics ahead of release, with Mark Adams of the Daily Mirror saying, "A deliriously dark and gloriously bloody crime comedy, Sightseers is a wonderfully eccentric film that delivers twisted humour at some British landmarks." Contactmusic's very own Rich Cline lauded the movie too, writing, "Even by Ben Wheatley's genre-busting standards, this film is a triumph, centring on comedy and romance in a road movie about two violent serial killers. After the terrific Down Terrace and Kill List, we probably should have expected as much." Filmed mainly in scenic spots in northern England, Sightseers also saw Oram and Lowe stay in character during 12-hour shoots (even on testing terrain) Wheatley explained, "I was watching Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights the other day and I recognised the same crag that we shot on. I thought, 'Hang on - I know this rock!"
It's likely that Sightseers will win Best Film at the Independent Film Awards on 9 December 2012, though it faces reasonable competition. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - starring Bill Nighy and Dame Judi Dench - was a surprise hit stateside, while documentary The Imposter received rave views. Berberian Sound Studio creeped out audiences with its chilling tale, while the Tim Roth-starring Broken is also worth a shout.
Continue reading: Is Ben Wheatley's Sightseers The Best British Movie Of The Year?