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 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 Tramway Museum, the Keswick Pencil Museum and the Ribblehead Viaduct. Self-styled dog whisperer Tina responds in kind with hand-crocheted, 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.