CARNAGE at the Crich Tramway Museum and mayhem in the Blue John Cavern – these are some of the grisly delights in store with Sightseers, the opening night film at Celluloid Screams.
The black comedy is directed by Ben Wheatley and written by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe who also star as a seemingly mundane Midlands couple on a caravan tour of northern British landmarks which turns into a bloody killing spree.
“We really like British holidays which we both went on as kids growing up in the Midlands,” explained Oram. “It started as a joke, we thought it would be funny to have a holiday maker killing people and then going to look at castles.”
At first they performed it as a live comedy act going on stage with sandwiches and thermos flask to talk casually about murder on trips around the country.
Deemed too grisly as a TV comedy, they were snapped up by a film company and as part of their research she and Oram did go on a week’s camping trip, revealed Lowe. “We researched what annoying people you would find on a camp-site,” she laughed.
“Our backgrounds informed the characters. A lot of my comedy influences come from my family and childhood. Growing up I didn’t feel cool and I think you see that in Tina – the parallel me.”
The whole film is the journey of a relationship and the killings are a metaphor, according to Lowe.
Oram, rather alarmingly, said he based his character on his own dad. “He’s is a sightseer and extremely knowledgable; he designed the route we take in the film.” Other stopping off points include the Ribblehead Viaduct and the Keswick Pencil Museum.
Director Wheatley said he wanted to do a comedy after his previous film, Killing List ( filmed in and around Sheffield) which was “horrible and depressing”. At the same time Sightseers fitted in with the dark vision of his other films, he considered .
The shooting schedule followed the road trip of the film. “The locations were given the scripts in advance,” said Wheatley. “We tried to treat the places with respect. The Pencil Museum, for example, is not a joke.
“It was important not to take the piss out of them, it’s about how the characters reacted to them.”
Filming took place this time last year. The advantage of shooting in October was that there were fewer tourists about, said Lowe.
The downside was that the actors had to endure some freezing conditions in the latter stages up in the Yorkshire Dales, although director Wheatley enthused: “To create all that sleet artificially would have cost a fortune.”