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Review: Cottage Country (Fantasia)

Jul. 24, 2013by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Todd (Tyler Labine) is looking forward to a romantic getaway with his girlfriend Cammie (Malin Akerman) at his parents picturesque lakeside cottage, where he plans to finally ask her to marry him. His plans are ruined when his slacker brother, Salinger (Dan Petronijevic) shows up uninvited, with his trashy girlfriend Masha (Lucy Punch) in tow. When an argument between the two brothers turns deadly, Todd and Cammie try to cover things up, but when the bodies start to pile up, the two find themselves caught in a web they can’t get out of.

REVIEW: Peter Wellington’s COTTAGE COUNTRY is an effective, funny thriller that attempts to put across a vibe that could be called “The Coen Bros up north”. Despite being a Canadian film partly financed by Telefilm Canada, this is the first I’ve heard of COTTAGE COUNTRY, but the combination of cult comedy-horror star Tyler Labine, and Malin Akerman is sure to spark the interest of those who turned Labine’s TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL into a cult hit.

Sure enough, the Fantasia screening I saw this at was jam-packed and sold out for days in advance. While I wouldn’t say it’s as fresh and fun as TUCKER & DALE, it’s still a pretty nifty little comedy-thriller, although like most films of its ilk, the less you know about it going in, the better. It’s essentially a riff on early Coen Bros, particularly BLOOD SIMPLE, crossed with a healthy dose of Peter Berg’s underrated VERY BAD THINGS.

Its obvious right from our introduction to Labine’s Todd, where he’s berated mercilessly by his middle-management boss as his generic office job, that’s he’s a ball of rage just waiting to go off. Labine’s efforts to repress his anger, by never swearing (saying things like “flip you”) and doting on his girlfriend, certainly aren’t going to be effective for long. Part of the fun of the movie is just waiting for him to go nuts. As good as Labine is, the movie is all but stolen by Dan Petronijevic as his no-good brother Salinger, and British thesp Lucy Punch as his euro-trash girlfriend. Without revealing who does in who, one thing COTTAGE COUNTRY does depict in a gruesomely funny manner is how it can simultaneous be incredibly easy, or incredibly difficult to dispose of someone, depending on the circumstances.

Malin Akerman, who’s usually stuck playing the typical “hot chick” part, gets to stretch as Labine’s girlfriend. At first, she seems too good to be true, being drop-dead gorgeous, and utterly devoted to her pudgy boyfriend. But, as things go south, Akerman’s really able to cut loose and camp it up a bit as her character is put through the wringer, and defies her stereotype in often very funny fashion.

While probably shot on a fairly low-budget, Canadian director Peter Wellington has still made a pretty good looking film, with some really fun gore effects. I believe COTTAGE COUNTRY is already slated for a DVD/VOD release, so it probably won’t be hitting theaters on either side of the border anytime soon, which is a bit of a shame as it’s MUCH better than your typical Anglo-Canadian film (and I say this as an Anglo-Canadian). Labine’s fans from TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, or REAPER are sure to get a kick out of this, and it’s a fun effortless watch worth checking out.

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