The Cottage

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"Folks don't fare well around these parts "

Oct 10th, 2010

Where I work we show a lot of crap, being an independent cinema we do private screenings. Over the years I have screened student films to big budget TV shows (cough-Primeval-cough) and all have one thing in common, major suckage. When I heard we were going to screen a horror film called The Cottage, I skipped it (never heard of it at the time) assuming the worst. Boy did I make a mistake.

When I saw the trailer six months later I was stunned, it looked great- a horror comedy about a mad farmer and to top it all off it was British made. I couldn't wait to sit down and watch this on release day but alas the cinema where I work never screened the film again. As time passed I forgot the film existed. That was until last week, I found it showing on Sky Movies, and finally I would be able to see it.

From the trailer I saw I expected something else entirely and the best thing about the promo was that it kept so much of the plot secret. All of the characters in this film are nasty bastards and somehow I loved them all.

The story follows two brothers Peter and David. They don't particularly like each other but have decided to work together on one last job, kidnapping a girl named Tracey. Hiding out in a remote countryside cottage they are about to discover that their neighbour doesn't like company.

I was about an hour into the film when I realised that the horror portion of the film hadn't kicked in and the thing was I didn't care, it had been such a joy spending time with these characters I had no desire to see them killed off. That's why the horror works so well here, for once I actually liked these people and when they were in danger I wanted them to survive.

The cast is kept to a minimum which allows them to be truly fleshed out. Andy Serkis best know as Gollum from the Lord Of The Rings films is a great actor. He's more of the straight man of the piece here but in playing David I felt his frustration building as he dealt with his bumbling brother Peter. Reece Shearsmith takes on this role excellently (kudos to casting as the tone of this one is similar to The League of Gentlemen TV show) he truly stands out here even among the great performances from everyone. Jennifer Ellison tackles Tracey, the not so much of a victim, as she remains threatening even in her restrained position. I was actually amazed with her as I expected far less. Ellison is hot. I thought she was playing the eye candy but her role actually matched that of the two brothers, great.

Other characters appear throughout the piece but to detail them would ruin some of the fun but they do include gangsters and a deeply comical turn from Steve O'Donnell as Andrew.

When the horror does kick in it's brutal and the characters here take some punishment. The evil farmer is a fun character who remains terrifying even in this comedy setting – no easy feat but one British writers seem to be more adept at than their American Counterparts. His back-story is never fully fleshed out so I would love a sequel or prequel focusing on the guy but the film works well as a standalone.

The look of the film is also impressive. It looks expensive, most British horrors look cheap and use a grainy effect. I hate that look, it's probably the main reason most avoid watching. Not here though, even with a look more like American cinema the film retains its Englishness and made me proud to be from the same country.

There was one disappointment from this; at one point Andy Serkis' character travels to a nearby village to use a phone booth leading to a run in with the bizarre locals. The scene is headed by a cameo from Doug Bradley (Pinhead guys) but it's just not long enough – if you've seen the trailer you've seen this scene. I have always liked the idea of creepy locals in movies and yet they rarely have much screen time just look at the pub scene from American Werewolf In London. So memorable but only takes up 5 mins of the film. I want a whole movie on a town of nutjobs.

British Horror has been a bit hit or miss for me, I like to refer to this modern period of Horror as AH, "After Hammer" as since then our offerings have been balls. With Shaun of the Dead it appears that Britain has found a genre they can be good at, the horror comedy but don't get me wrong the Cottage is not the above film, this has a mean streak that Shaun lacked fantastic. 8/10

Best Kill
Quite the meaty decapitation

Tracey was originally conceived as a forty year old woman -Thanks for changing it
It's impossible not to stare a Jennifer Ellison's Arse
Watch to the end of the credits for an extra scene

Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Screenplay: Paul Andrew Williams
Release: 2008
Rating: 18
Starring: Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison, Doug Bradley

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