After hearing about Sightseers, I finally got the chance to see it a couple of months ago. I was immediately and completely charmed by both of the main characters. They are amazingly charismatic, especially Chris (played by Steve Oram). The movie opens with Tina (played by Alice Lowe) and her mother in an uncomfortable scene where their relationship is laid bare in hints and clues that instantly let you see the constant power play going on between them, in a very understated way. Chris and Tina leave for their trip and you wish them well with leaving the emotional cesspit that is Tina’s day to day life.
And this is where I leave the breakdown of the plot, because there is no way to continue without ruining where this movie goes. The decline, and hints to the brokenness, of the characters becomes quickly visible. You spend most of the movie feeling like you are at the pinnacle of the rollercoaster, waiting for it to drop. It’s uncomfortable, frightening and blackly comic. My husband walked in on the last couple minutes of the movie, just as I yelled at the screen upon the credits starting. I was certain that I hated the movie, until I found myself thinking about it for weeks, and even now a month after watching it. I watched it again last night and found myself just as avidly watching it as the first time, even knowing how it was all going to end. Some movies aren’t meant to be liked. Some are just a ride that you get on if you have the gumption for it. And this is one of those movies.
I watched this after Sightseers, while Kill List has an undertone that is similar, it’s over-all nature is very different. Kill List is flat out frightening, dread inducing, and frequently cruel. You meet a hitman almost a year after a job went bad, and he hasn’t worked since. His wife angrily points out that their money is almost gone and her obvious frustration with him is very evident. Their family dynamic is volatile, you see hints of their love with their young son, but you also see the wife’s impatience with her husband’s inaction and depression. They strike out at each other constantly, yet fall back into each other’s arms just as quickly.
The movie jumps to action when they have her husband’s former partner over for dinner, and they decide to take a job that promises a huge payoff for multiple kills. The meeting with their client is odd and flagged with dark foreshadowing. The dread and shock that this movie consistently hits you with, from the very beginning, is almost overwhelming. These are the only Ben Wheatley movies that I have seen, but midway through this movie I looked at my friend Six and asked, “did this director just never get any hugs from his mother as a kid, cause this shit is STARK.”
Ben Wheatley is a talented director. His latest, A Field in England just came out and I am looking forward to seeing it. I just want to restate that I don’t think that every movie is for enjoying, some movies are about the experience. Mr. Wheatley provides one hell of an ride.