Usually when things go wrong on holiday, it’s because your flight was cancelled or the luxurious five-star resort you were promised in the brochure turns out to be a building site. Travellers sees four friends confronting horrors greater than those of a budget airline as they embark upon a motorcycle break in the country and things take a turn for the worse when they anger a group of Irish nomads.
After stumbling into a pub where they’re greeted with all the joy and cheer of the locals from An American Werewolf In London, they ask a farmer (Charley Boorman) if they can spend the night on his land. Hiking into the countryside, they pitch up, only for one of their group to deface a nearby caravan. Caught in the act by a group of Irish travellers, three of them take to their heels into the woods while one tries to talk it out.
Here the film divides into two halves. In one, the three who scarpered are pursued through the forest by shotgun and knife-wielding thugs – a cat and mouse chase sequence punctuated by moments of gratuitous gore and paper-thin characterisation. The other follows Alex, the one left behind, now taken hostage and tied up in the caravan as he begins a sketchily defined relationship with a young girl that attempts to show the more compassionate side of both groups.
The dialogue has all the subtlety of a size nine to the face (Charley Boorman actually manages to deliver the line “The dread of evil is a much more forcible action” without bursting into fits of hysterical laughter) and characters espouse their beliefs in conversations so contrived, it’s almost as if they’ve stepped out of a commercial. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine each character with a Top Trump style list of their attributes. “Andy. Likes: violence, machetes. Dislikes: Travellers, reasoned argument.”
To its credit, Travellers does have one or two well-photographed images but it’s a shame that this is ruined by some of the worst quality footage since Trash Humpers, the grainy aspect of the film stock could easily be mistaken for a pirated VHS tape. There are also some well-choreographed bare-fisted boxing scenes but these are small consolation to a film so obviously characterised and shallow.
It all winds up with a particularly unsatisfying conclusion and a cringe worthy narrated epilogue which implies that you can’t escape the fate of your blood – apparently all it takes is for someone with a Traveller background to be punched in the face and he’ll regress to a life of bare-knuckle brawling, a deplorably simplistic moral even in a film so mediocre.