The Cottage (2008)

Sleeps six bloody comfortably.
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The Cottage - Sleeps six bloody comfortably.

It is a rare occurrence that a comedy movie combines the correct ingredients to slip comfortably into the horror genus. British director Paul Andrew Williams manages to do this impeccably with The Cottage, and manages to take what starts as a bumbling crime caper seamlessly into a more traditional slasher movie without relying on lame humour so often present in this genre. Comedy-horror, horror-comedy? For those that care about pigeon-holing movies then The Cottage seems to be first and foremost comedic with a heavy reliance on horror depending on an emphasis switch towards the end for the latter. The switch from crime caper to gore movie is apparent and the two story lines are not intertwined by anything other than the characters, but both sides are necessary for the film to work as intended.

The quality of the actor's output is superb and the conflicting characters are what make the movie work so well with regards to being comic without resorting to absurdity. This makes the situation believable and genuinely provokes empathy when the characters start to die. Andy Serkis proves his worth as an actor as the streetwise ruffian surrounded by incompetent sidekicks. Reece Shearsmith combines the best of his League of Gentlemen characters to create the pussy whipped husband that is in a situation deeper than his comfort zone allows for. Jennifer Ellison is perfectly cast as the ladette kidnapee, with a gutter mouth delivering more cunts and fucks than a Russian mail order bride company and an ample rack for the ogling of. Steven O'Donnell adds more comedy value as another incompetent fool that you probably 'put on your crime buddy Twitter list. There is even a brief cameo from Doug Bradley to pay homage to the horror inspiration.

David and Peter are brothers looking to fulfil their dreams the easy way... a kidnap scam! David frequents the club of underworld crime boss Arnie and decides that the ideal kidnap victim is Arnie's daughter. Kidnap the girl, get the ransom, buy a boat, pay off the rest of Peter's house, nobody gets hurt and everybody lives happily ever after. Well that's the plan.

The flaw in the plan is recruiting hen-pecked Peter and the incompetent son of Arnie to assist with the proceedings. After failed negotiations from the remote Barnaby Cottage and mobile phone casualties, David has to go into the local village to use the payphone.... OF DOOOOOOM!

After a brief encounter with the sinister locals warning of the dangerous and mysterious surrounding area, phone calls are made and David returns to the cottage to wrap up the proceedings only to discover the situation has become more fucked up than ever.

Refusing to pay any heed to the warnings from the villagers, David does the opposite of locking his doors and not wandering in the woods which inevitably makes things much, much worse.

When the genuine horror starts it is as if the director decides to pay homage to the classics of the genre and whereas in many modern slashers this seem clichéd, it does not here. The characters are sucked into a nightmare world as if it is an entertainment driven penance for their previous evil deeds and greeds.

The key to the credibility of what is a preposterous situation is the interplay between David (Andy Serkis) and his brother Peter (Reece Shearsmith). The unlikely genetic combination that made these two brothers is made credible by the emotional interaction between the two, competently portraying a history of experiences and brotherly love. This gives an emotional depth to the movie which provides the one of the most important components for emoting a sense of horror... an empathy with the characters.

The violence is nice and gory and is made more effective for the love that has grown for the hapless criminals. The level of comedy is maintained throughout despite the deliberate change in mood. All elements are present for an enjoyable horror and while the story (including the ending) is nothing revolutionary for a horror this is more than compensated for by the overall quality of the film without being over-engineered. The Cottage is a high quality movie that could have so easily become cheesy in the hands of the wrong director although, for a glimpse of Ellison's blood splattered boobs, an injection of cheese may have been a worthy sacrifice.
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Categories: British Horror Movies
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