By Rich Cline
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, but this film exceeds expectations at every turn, keeping us laughing and cringing all the way to the fiendishly clever conclusion.
Tina (Lowe) defies her disapproving mother to go on a caravan holiday in northern England with her new boyfriend Chris (Oram). As they head through the picturesque Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, Tina is momentarily shocked when Chris runs down an annoying thug with their car. She decides it must be an accident, but as the body count grows she develops a taste for killing. Meanwhile, their relationship is going through the usual ups and downs as they struggle to live together in the confined quarters of their caravan while Tina's mum continues to pester them. So there are other things besides their homicidal urges that strain their romance.
Wheatley gives the film a cheerful tone that catches us off guard. It starts like a typical British black comedy, with sarcastic humour and romantic undercurrents. And the road trip takes in a series of dazzling landscapes, offbeat tourist attractions, picturesque campsites and even an adorable dog. So watching it merrily morph into something brutally murderous is both terrifying and funny. We begin to laugh nervously any time someone puts him or herself into their path, gasping at the possibilities and then staring dumfounded at where things go.
This is exactly what Wheatley did in his previous two films, blurring lines between genres to continually surprise us as the story develops. By the final act we begin to suspect where this story is heading, but Wheatley and his cast have plenty of surprises up their sleeves. And both Oram and Lowe deliver performances that are perfectly balanced between realism and farce, generating honest chemistry that makes their journey eerily moving. We might not be able to stomach their grisly killing spree, but we like them and hope they end their holiday with some good memories.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 10th May 2013
Distributed by: IFC Films
Production compaines: StudioCanal, BFI, Film4 Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 81 Rotten: 14
Cast & Crew
Producer: Claire Jones, Nira Park, Andrew Starke
Starring: Alice Lowe as Tina, Steve Oram as Chris, Jonathan Aris as Ian, Monica Dolan as Janice, Sara Stewart as Blond Boy's Mother, Tony Way as Crich Tourist, Lucy Russell as Lynne Marshall, Richard Lumsden as Rambler, Dominic Applewhite as Blonde Teenager, Kenneth Hadley as Richard, Seamus O'Neill as Mr. Grant, Aymen Hamdouchi as Chalid Sulinan, Mark Kempner as Stranger In Pencil Museum, Gareth Tunley as Todd Marshall, Eileen Davies as Carol, Stephanie Jacob as Joan, Sara Dee as Radio Reporter, Richard Glover as Martin, Gemma Lise Thornton as Head Hen, Rachel Austin as Bride-To-Be