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THE COTTAGE
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Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton

Directed by: Paul Andrew Williams

Starring:
Andy Serkis
Reece Shearsmith
Jennifer Ellison

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Brothers David and Peter have kidnapped the daughter of a London crime lord and head to a rural farmhouse to hole up and make their ransom demands. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong does go wrong, compounded further by an axe-wielding maniac who dwells in the local village.
Is it good movie?
I had a great time watching THE COTTAGE. I wasnít really sure what to expect, and I got a bit of everything. Writer-director Paul Andrew Williams pulls off something inspired here, and youíre bound to get your sick kicks from this one, granted you are along for the ride.

All the actors step up to the plate and elevate the character dynamics into something memorable. The always awesome Andy Serkis (KING KONG, LORD OF THE RINGS, THE PRESTIGE) is great as David, the brother whoís not-quite-tough-as-nails but still imposing. Serkis and Reece Shearsmith (playing the very jumpy, nerdy, moth-phobic Peter) share terrific chemistry, making the first act a real pleasure simply due to their interaction. Jennifer Ellision makes for one feisty hostage and isnít hard to look at. Another accomplice, the none-too-bright Andrew (Steve O'Donnell), eventually enters the picture and brings with him some of the biggest laughs in the movie.

Structurally, the movie reminded me of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN due to a trade-off in genres at the midway point. The first half is more of a Hitchcockian yarn with the typical kidnapping-gone-awry plot. In the second half, the movie morphs into a TEXAS CHAINSAW/FRIDAY THE 13TH-inspired slashfest with a psycho in prosthetics. There is an ominous scene where David encounters some villagers who warn him that strangers are not welcomed too kindly around their parts, but otherwise there is no dead giveaway as to where THE COTTAGE is headed. The one thing that remains fairly consistent throughout is the element of comedy. There are some laugh-out-loud hilarious moments in the film which definitely surprised me. The main source of amusement comes from watching the characters (mainly the hapless Peter) undergo A LOT of agonizing torment. Their pain becomes our pleasure. Even as the movie gets stuck in slasher gear toward the end, there's some creative gory bits (the shovel gag = nice!) and a real sense of fun, right up until the lamely abrupt ending.

Williams works tirelessly to attain the perfect ratio of comedy to horror, which is too often a volatile combination in film. Certainly, THE COTTAGE does not capture that balance perfectly. I would say the film is more funny than scary, but it does offer a few rewards on both counts. I would have almost preferred the movie further explore the initial kidnapping angle instead of branching into a more mechanical horror movie, as it likely would yield a more satisfying payoff for our characters. At the same time, although it does get much more predictable (with prosthetics work on the killer that is underwhelming at best, given the high quality of most of the makeup effects here), I was still rolling along with the pleasantly cheeky tone and the engaging performances. Serkis and Shearsmith absolutely rule in this.
Video / Audio
Video 2.35:1 Widescreen presentation

Audio English, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles are also available in all of those languages.
The Extras
Deleted Scenes A generous helping of chopped bits, about ten in total. Mostly inconsequential stuff that has been extended from the film, but there are a few that are pretty interesting.

Outtakes About five minutes long, featuring some minor goofs. Andy Serkis seems like one hell of a nice guy.

Finally there's a Storyboard Gallery, with two storyboarded scenes.
Last Call
THE COTTAGE is a British flick that delivers laughs, splatter and some very funny performances. It might be trying to have its cake and eat it too, and it doesnít always work, but itís fun and entertaining all the same.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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