The Cottage (2008)

MAY 18, 2008


Oh the British, why are you so good at combining graphic gore with subtle comedy?

Much like the under-appreciated Severance, The Cottage is essentially a Friday the 13th film crossed with a black comedy, in this case something like Fargo or Ruthless People, in that you have a kidnapping gone wrong due to inept ‘criminals’, a kidnap victim who seems to have the upper hand, complications and double crosses, etc. But then a Victor Crowley-esque mutant killer comes along and everything goes to hell.

It’s not as laugh out loud funny as Severance, but it’s more consistently humorous. One thing about Severance that always kind of bugged me is that once the plane blows up (the film’s comedic highlight), they essentially drop the humor altogether. That’s not the case here, as there are giggles to be had right down to the final scene. And the film wastes no time getting to the laughs either, as the brothers begin humorously bickering in the film’s first scene (naturally, as this is a British movie, they bicker over tea).

Of course, the humor wouldn’t work at all without a capable cast, and thankfully director Paul Steven Williams has assembled one. Andy Serkis is great as the only intelligent criminal of the three, and has most of the film’s best lines. I was surprised at how good he was, since I only knew him as a guy who stood in for CGI characters (Gollum in LOTR, Kong in King Kong). Hopefully he will be taking on more actual roles. Reece Shearsmith as his brother is also good, playing a nebbish who inadvertently causes most of their problems. The only minor flaw is Doug Bradley, in a distracting cameo as one of a few townsfolk who show up long enough for you to say “what the hell was the point of that scene” (their one scene comes and goes out of nowhere, isn’t relevant to the plot, and is never even mentioned again).

As for the gore, it’s top notch. Not all of the gags are original (decapitation via shovel, again), but they are executed flawlessly, and none of the effects look fake. It’s also occasionally pretty suspenseful; the film has the best “guy stupidly puts his head to the door when he knows the killer is on the other side” scene in ages, as Williams has the timing for such a clichéd sequence down perfectly, resulting in not only a jolt but a laugh as well once punchline to the bit is delivered. It should be noted that the killer doesn’t make his official appearance until the end of the 2nd act, and those seeking a nonstop gorefest will be disappointed. Structurally speaking, it’s more like Hatchet than a F13 movie.

My only other minor complaint is that the Danny Elfman-esque score (it sounds exactly like Beetlejuice at times) was overbearing at times, and not always ‘right’ for the scene. Maybe if played softer it would work, but since it’s drowning out the scene audio at times, it becomes doubly annoying.

The DVD comes with deleted scenes and outtakes. The outtakes are typical (i.e. not very funny, though it’s somewhat amusing to see how jovial Serkis is out of character), but the deleted scenes are interesting for the most part. In addition to a deleted character (wisely excised, as it spoils the surprise of the killer, much like I and the box art have done), there is also a moment where Serkis is actually nice to the 3rd kidnapper, something that never occurs in the final cut. I would have liked a commentary, but alas (the deleted scenes have some explanation of their removal via onscreen text). Luckily, the movie was enjoyable enough on its own. Definitely recommended for fans of dry humor, and also fans of giant mutant killer dudes tearing fat guys’ spines out.

What say you?


  1. I saw this recently and liked it a lot, like you say it's not that particularly original but they pull it off very well, and it's genuinely funny.

    The ending's superb too, far too many horror films end happily, so it was nice to see this one not doing so.

    My only problem with it was the excessive swearing. I've honestly no problem with bad language at all (I'm a big fan of The Soprano's for instance!), but there's just too much of it here and I wish it was a bit more inventive language wise sometimes.

    Bar that it's great though, and everyone should try and see it.

  2. This is my kind of horror movie!! Thanks for the review, I may not have picked it up if not for reading your incredibly humorous blog every day.....I even tell people now "but horror movie a day guy said it was good!" This and Severance are two of my favorite horror films now :)

  3. Agreed this wasn't a bad movie. I found the ending completly random and confusing. Maybe I missed something half way(Probably since I kept getting up and down) but it came out of left for me. Who the hell was in the cellar? All in all not bad, but I wished for more horror mixed in with the comedy. I felt like I was watching one of the Home Alone movies.
    Top notch violence is what really kept me watching after the first half.
    Oh and I liked that they screamed like girls. It reminded me of the time I did drop zone... I am deathly afraid of heights and as much as I wanted to sound like tough guy, I sounded much more like a small scared female child.

  4. You didn't mention that busty British glamour model Jennifer Ellison is in this, tied up and cussing up a storm in that hot British accent. That alone takes an already very good horror comedy and makes it excellent.

  5. Other than being disappointed that we never saw anything more than cleavage, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. Good god that was great cleavage.


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget