Sightseers (UK, 2012)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Starring Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Jonathan Aris
It's always painful when a promising director fails to live up to their burgeoning reputation. Through Down Terrace and Kill List, Ben Wheatley has established himself as one of the most exciting British film-makers in recent times, carving out a niche for himself in low-budget horrors and thrillers which marry unconventional storytelling to a fittingly gruesome aesthetic.
Dr. Strangelove we laugh at the impending death of all humanity because we understand the absurd motivations of Colonel Jack D. Ripper, Major Kong or General Buck Turgidson. In Heathers we laugh at the deaths of the high school students because the film keeps us focussed on the plight of Veronica Sawyer and her complex, conflicted feelings towards JD.
Kind Hearts and Coronets being another example), but the killers become memorable or emotionally engaging because they feel rounded and interesting. Here we are given a serial killer and a closeted, sheltered thirty-something, and all their back-story is either irritating or uninteresting. There's no real development beyond the woman becoming psychotic, and even that doesn't feel properly thought out.
The Evil Dead; the other is to start out as a comedy and then gradually build up and transition to horror, like An American Werewolf in London. Wheatley, however, opts for neither, starting out with a horror movie and then expecting us to laugh for no good reason. Rather than work hard to make us understand the characters' reasons for murder, Sightseers simply asks us to laugh at murder as if it's inherently funny.
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