The Cottage Review
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In The Cottage, Andy Serkis and Reece Shearsmith play quarrelsome brothers David and Peter, who kidnap Tracey (Jennifer Ellison), the daughter of an underworld gangster and strip club owner. Hiding out in an isolated cottage (hence the title), they plan to wait it out until their ransom demands are met. David, the more thuggish of the two—who also works for said underworld boss—plans the snatch to make a little money. Brother Peter, the less experienced of the two when it comes to waxing tough (he also has a moth phobia), just goes along with his brother.

Tracey, as the brothers soon discover (much to their detriment), happens to be a foul-mouthed firebrand, who, in the first 15 minutes, manages to break Peter’s nose while she’s still cuffed and gagged. But competence is not Peter’s forte—and when David leaves the cottage to make a phone call, Tracey manages to subdue poor Peter and essentially kidnap him. Unfortunately, they both stumble through the forest and into a nearby farmhouse, where they come across an axe-welding maniac. Hilarity and gore ensue.

The British really know how to pull off dark, satiric comedy. And writer/director Paul Andrew Williams’s The Cottage is no exception. Who cares that some of the characters are underdeveloped, or that some plot points come across as random? That’s not the point. The point is for the director to cram as much gore and dark, sarcastic humor as he possibly can into 90 minutes.

As with any good satire, the actors in The Cottage don’t hand the audience the laughs. And because this is a British horror comedy, all of the performers sound like they’re in the most important stage production of their lives. These actors commit to the moments—no matter how absurd.

Serkis and Shearsmith are excellent as the bickering brothers—the most developed characters in the story. Ellison is perfect as the expletive-slinging and sassy Tracey, whose accent will have you grinding your teeth by the end of her arc. Thrown into the chaotic mix is Tracey’s stepbrother, Andrew (played with dimwitted enthusiasm by Steve O’Donnell), who becomes embroiled in the kidnap plot. Doug Bradley, the great actor behind Pinhead in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, has a cameo as a hostile townsperson, but he’s wasted in a plot thread that gets dropped almost as soon as it’s introduced. But no matter. This movie has a crazy, deformed farmer who looks like the love child of Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and those inbred freaks from The Hills Have Eyes—and that’s what counts. Williams’s dialogue is laced with sarcasm, and all the horror movie clichés actually work for the movie rather than against it. A special mention must go to composer Laura Rossi, whose music adds to the satire by channeling Danny Elfman à la Men in Black.

I highly recommend The Cottage to those discerning viewers who appreciate horror comedy of the Shaun of the Dead and Severance variety. Paul Andrew Williams has created a low-budget ($2.5 million) flick that’s well worth the visit.

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