David and Peter are two bickering brothers in the need for some quick cash. They develop a scheme that involves kidnapping the step-daughter of a shady strip club owner with possible mob connections. The plan, if all goes correctly, is for them to abduct the girl, take her to a remote cottage in the country and hold her for ransom. Simple. But things normally never go exactly as planned, and the brothers find this out the hard way. They will also find out just how bad a well planned crime cang et (and how quickly) starting when their abducted girl turns out to be quite aggressive and not too happy about her situation. Before the night is over,everything that could possibly go wrong for the brothers will. Then it will get worse. Then the mutant, homicidal farmer shows up. It’s gonna be a long night.

The Cottage is another British horror film that mixes in the humor in the same vein as Severance and Shaun of the Dead. It also follows the two-films-in-one technique as seen in other horror films such as The Descent and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn. The film starts out in one genre and then mid-way through, takes a turn into horror. The first half of The Cottage is a dark comedy detailing the beginnings of the plan with the flawless abduction of  Tracie and the time spent at the cottage with the two brothers. Even though the majority of this section takes place in the cottage,  the three main characters are entertaining and Anderson keeps things interesting with some engaging and often humorous back-and-forth banter between the characters and just enough plot developments regarding the plan disintegration.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe second half of the film is when gears are changed and The Cottage veers into slapstick horror when our characters find themselves on the property of a disfigured farmer who shares some of the same hobbies as Leatherface. He also does not like trespassers much. The gore is high, with half-foot amputations, half-cap by shovel, disembowelment, pick-axe play and head removal via spinal cord. The effects don’t just stop at the violence, as the psychotic, lipless farmer looks good and is fairly imposing. It’s not surprising that these effects were done to such a convincing degree as they were created by Paul Hyett, sans CGI I might add, the man behind the effects in The Descent and Mutant Chronicles. While these kills should satisfy the gorehounds to a certain degree, there are also enough creepy scenes in and around the farmhouse to satisfy horror movie lovers as well. This is achieved by Anderson being able to create some tense moments enhanced by some great cinematography. The film is vivid, even when dark, and the cottage, farmhouse and surrounding countryside are all shot crisply with some great lighting work when outdoors.

But the big surprise comes from Jennifer Ellison who plays Tracie, the foul-mouthed step-daughter who has been abducted. Mostly known for her work on the British soap Brookside, as well as…her other assets. She was acting alongside great character actor, Andy Serkis (King Kong, Lord of the Rings Trilogy), as well as Reece Shearsmith, a member of the award-winning comedy team League of Gentlemen. While both of these men do greast jobs with their roles, Ellison handles her wisecracking, profanity laced dialog like a pro and almost steals the show with a standout performance.

Some minor complaints I had with the film had to do with some of the humor not working in the second half (a scene with moths being a big standout), and Laura Rossi’s Danny Elfman-ish score could be a little overbearing in a couple spots. A couple major complaints deal with the way I felt about the two brothers by the end of the film. I liked them but Williams failed to get me to like them enough to sympathize with them or care what happened to them. I didn’t feel emotionally invested in either of the characters in a way that might have elevated this film. Which is a shame as Williams has shown that he can get strong performances out of his actors as seen in his previous crime thriller, London to Brighton. The ending, which the film had been leading to quite well, left me feeling a bit disappointed and feeling as if Williams and crew just completely ran out of ideas and decided to wrap it up.

But none of those complaints take away from the fact that The Cottage is a good horror film that I would recommend to anyone. For horror movie lovers and fans of dark comedy, you really cannot go wrong with The Cottage, as it offers  a bit of both. Give this film the love Sony didn’t and pick up the DVD or at least rent it and spread the word. The DVD is feature lite, but it does include some deleted scenes, one of them being a gory face removal that I am surprised they left out.

[rating:3/5]

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