On the beaten track

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

SIGHT­SEERS ★★★★★ Di­rected by Ben Wheat­ley. Star­ring Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Richard Glover 16 cert, lim­ited re­lease, 88 mins “DEAR MUM, York­shire is lovely and not like you said at all: they do have my pasta sauce.” Knit­ting en­thu­si­ast Tina ( Hor­ri­ble His­to­ries’ Alice Lowe) is 34 and lives at home with her ma­nip­u­la­tive, cranky mother (Eileen Davies). Might a car­a­van­ning hol­i­day with bald­ing, gin­ger-bearded Chris (Steve Oram), a plas­tics en­thu­si­ast she

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met at Capoeira class a month ear­lier, fi­nally pro­vide Tina with a shot at some small hap­pi­ness?

De­spite mother’s protes­ta­tions, Tina packs up and sets out for the Lake District in Chris’s Abbey Ox­ford car­a­van. The un­likely ro­man­tics are trav­el­ling in ac­cor­dance with Chris’s metic­u­lous itin­er­ary, an odyssey around such hotspots as Crich’s Na­tional

Sight­seers Tramway Mu­seum, the Keswick Pen­cil Mu­seum and the Rib­ble­head Viaduct. Self-styled dog whis­perer Tina re­sponds in kind with hand­cro­cheted, crotch­less lin­gerie.

Sadly, even th­ese well-laid plans are sub­ject to in­tru­sions from lit­ter­bugs, smug so­phis­ti­cates, and her­itage site busy­bod­ies. Frus­trated yet de­ter­mined, Chris quickly set­tles on a course of ac­tion: kill them all.

Lowe and Oram have spent years im­pro­vis­ing around th­ese characters so, un­sur­pris­ingly, as the bod­ies pile up, the dead­pan di­a­logue and tim­ing is im­pec­ca­ble. Di­rec­tor Ben Wheat­ley in­vests the ma­te­rial with a uniquely un­hinged druidic tone that falls some­where be­tween Ham­mer evil and Nuts in May’s cel­e­bra­tion of all things naff.

The screen­play, as rounded up by Amy Jump (Wheat­ley’s wife and Kill List co-au­thor), is per­fectly formed. A sub­plot in­volv­ing pos­si­ble ca­nine rein­car­na­tion and a tragic, ear­lier col­li­sion be­tween a ter­rier and knit­ting nee­dles only adds to cer­tainty that this is the best Bri­tish hor­ror-com­edy since Shaun of the Dead.

Ev­ery­one in­volved should feel pleased with them­selves, es­pe­cially Smurf and Ged, the film’s res­i­dent runts and joint win­ners of this year’s cov­eted Palm Dog at Cannes.

Hol­i­day hor­ror: Alice Lowe and friend in

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