a field in england
A Field in England/Sightseers
Okay, so already you’ve found me creating loopholes within the system. Genre-melding U.K. director Ben Wheatley is a filmmaker I will follow anywhere, and his two 2013 releases here in the U.S. aren’t necessarily full-fledged horrors, but together they serve as the most unsettling three hours in 2013 cinema. (Admittedly, the documentary An Act of Killing takes the disturbing honors for a 115-minute time length.)

The black-and-white A Field in England is set during a Battle of the English Civil War, in which a deserter named Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) meets up with other pacifists before falling under the unofficial command of O’Neill (Michael Smiley), the very man that Cutler had been sent out to apprehend. Are you with me? What follows is a psychedelic trip into Weirdsville involving a hunt for a phantom treasure and a lot of mushrooms. Accompanying this frothy non-narrative is Wheatley’s extreme use of editing and scene-building, often brought to extreme heights by the music of Jim Williams. Oh, and it also manages to paint a darkly humorous streak all over the confoundingly strange goings-on.

Sightseers, meanwhile, has a much more conventional structure, but the story is just as dark and funny when it isn’t being horrific. Tina (Alice Lowe) is long overdue in leaving her overbearing mother (Eileen Davies) behind, joining her "sometimes serial murderer" boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram) on a caravan trip through the country. A couple driven by impulsive motivations, their relationship takes a series of strange turns as the number of unlucky victims left in their wake become more numerous. The leads are incredible, somehow managing to draw sympathy and laughs despite portraying two of the most heinous people imaginable.

Experience the caravan ride from hell on Netflix here.

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