Cottage, The (2008)

The Cottage (2008)

Sleeps six bloody comfortably.

A couple of inept brothers decide to kidnap the daughter of a mobster and hold her to ransom in a desperate scheme to make some money. So they whisk her away to a remote cottage in the countryside where they decide to stay low until the money is paid. However she escapes her bungling captors and heads into the woods. With the brothers in hot pursuit, all three inadvertently trespass onto the land of a deranged farmer who is only too quick to put the proverbial lambs to the slaughter.

 

Oh they don’t make comedy horror films like the British, do they? You can just instantly tell when a film is a British comedy as the humour is just quintessentially British with plenty of wit, sarcasm and low key humour which raises chuckles and smirks. We don’t like making things obvious and throwing in loads of silly in-jokes, fart gags or slapstick. We’re masters at laughing at the understated. When I sit down to a Brit comedy-horror flick, I’m already a little more entertained and intrigued than I would be watching an American flick. It’s biased as hell but it’s true. It’s probably because we don’t make that many films in the UK anymore so that when they do get released, it seems like more of a special event. You can tell that time, painstaking detail and a lot of love and affection goes into them simply for the fact that the people involved aren’t just on a conveyor belt of film production like they are in the studios in the States. The Cottage is the next in a recent wave of comedy horrors from the UK that have hit the market and comes off as a bit of a cross between From Dusk Till Dawn and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The film doesn’t really get into horror territory until the second half. The first half of the film is taken up with the kidnapping and typical ‘everything going wrong’ scenario in which our team main characters find themselves in. This is where the bulk of the comedy comes in as the hapless brothers make a complete mess of the kidnapping and their eventual escape into the countryside. It’s only later in the film where it shifts into more serious horror territory. The gear change isn’t sudden and the anticipation and slow build-up works quite well. The gags still run but they’re not as prevalent. The writers clearly realise that in order for the horror to work, it must be scary and in order to be scary, it can’t be silly. So the psychotic, disfigured farmer who shows up isn’t silly in the slightest. He’s big, brutal and savage and extremely violent. He’s only got one direction and that’s full steam ahead so get in his way and you’re screwed.

Although the character is played straight, the kills aren’t and there are some right beauties here with a variety of farming tools being used. The film is pretty gory but like the tone of the film, it’s not meant to be nasty and some of the more creative moments of goo will have you squirming and laughing in equal measure. But if you’ve seen any of the other recent Brit flicks (Severance, Shaun of the Dead, Doghouse, etc) then you’ll know what to expect in the gore stakes.

Andy Serkis has so much more talent than to be stuck as Peter Jackson’s regular motion capture actor and here he demonstrates why he is such a man in demand. Serkis is always watchable and brings enough tough talking to the table here to give his character a dark edge but also enough likeability and affection for his brother that he’s somewhat humanised. Reece Shearsmith plays his feeble brother who is scared of pretty much everything (in particular he hates moths) to perfection and the two feed off each other very well with some excellent banter. The bond between them may not be obvious but throughout the film you really get the sense of brotherly love and looking out for each other – which obviously doesn’t go down too well with a big assed farmer with a pitchfork after them.

Despite the script dishing out loads of physical abuse throughout the running time to Shearsmith’s character (and boy does this poor bloke go through the ringer), the problem is that they’re supposed to be criminals and we shouldn’t be sympathising with them because they are kidnappers! But even the victims and the innocents who die aren’t very sympathetic. Jennifer Ellison plays Tracy, the kidnap victim, and apart from displaying a lot of cleavage and swearing in her horrible Scouse accent every two minutes, she does little else. We should be rooting for her because she’s been kidnapped but as soon as she opens her mouth and starts swearing, the only thing you want to see is a big bucket of soap and water being dunked down her mouth! Doug Bradley (the immortal Pinhead) makes a small cameo here too but the scene is so small, insignificant and throwaway that I wonder if it was to say “we got a cameo from Pinhead!”

 

The Cottage isn’t the most original film and it’s certainly a bit derivative in places but its fun and entertaining throughout. When you’re dealing with the subject matter of a psychotic, disfigured farmer you can’t really ask for more than for it to be a good watch!

 

 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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