FILM REVIEW: Sightseers (15)

The art of romance isn’t dead - but it’s certainly deadly - in Ben Wheatley’s deranged road movie, which walks a tightrope between sickeningly dark comedy and grisly horror.

Fans of the award-winning British director’s last film, Kill List, will already be braced for the onslaught of graphic violence. However, the bloodlust here is tempered with some sweet yet dysfunctional romance in a script co-written by lead actors Steve Oram and Alice Lowe.

Tina (Lowe) lives at home with her harridan mother (Eileen Davis), who never lets her daughter forget an unfortunate incident with some knitting needles. “It was an accident,” pleads Tina. “So were you,” cruelly retorts the battleaxe.

Desperate for room to breathe, Tina agrees to accompany her nerdy boyfriend Chris (Oram) on a caravanning holiday to some of the country’s great cultural hotspots including Keswick Pencil Museum and the National Tramway Museum in Crich.

As they tour the windswept countryside, Chris deals out rough justice to passers-by who dare to be rude or inconsiderate, and Tina realises with a frisson that she is dating a psychopath.

“I never thought about murdering innocent people before,” she muses after an ill-fated encounter with a rambler (Richard Lumsden). “He’s not a person,” replies Chris, “he’s a Daily Mail reader.”

Sightseers is an acquired taste. The humour is black as night and Wheatley doesn’t flinch from depicting Chris’s horrific actions in close-up.

However, if you buy into his twisted vision of modern Britain, there is much to enjoy, from Oram and Lowe’s adorable screen chemistry to the quintessentially British tourist attractions that provide the couple with their roadmap to slaughter.

Released: November 30, 88 mins