Maybe the bar has been set so low for horror-comedies that I no longer expect much from them, but heaven help me, I liked The Cottage. I liked it more than the Scream movies, which are often too cute for their own good. I liked it more than the camp classic Motel Hell, which doesn’t live up to its reputation.
The Cottage is engaging mostly because of its characters. When teens take a pickaxe in the skull in most horror spoofs, I tend to silently cheer. But in this film, I actually wanted the people to survive the inevitable carnage. (I won’t say whether or not they do.)
Bug-eyed Andy Serkis, who’s made a name for himself acting in motion-capture roles (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Gollum in The Lord of the Rings), plays it straight as one of two bumbling brothers who make the mistake of kidnapping the foul-mouthed daughter (Jennifer Ellison) of a mobster. Reece Shearsmith, as the other brother, and Steven O’Donnell, as the mobster’s son, complete this Three Stooges redux.
The Cottage is a strange hybrid of genres. The first half of the story is a kidnapping caper; the second half is a bloody, stupid, and funny send-up of horror favorites like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho. The last half of the movie, nonsensical as it is (how in hell does the story go from crime thriller to slasher flick?), is nevertheless the most effective. The killer, a deformed farmer, looks like he’s wearing a rubber mask and makes noises that seem filtered through … a rubber mask. If that sounds ridiculous, rest assured, it is.
But I liked the characters, I dug the tongue-in-cheek tone, and there were just enough creepy scenarios and amusing one-liners to keep me hooked. Says one bumbling brother to the uncooperative kidnap victim as they flee the deranged farmer: “This is the worst night of my life. Not only have I met you, I’ve stumbled into the only house in the country with someone worse than you.” Grade: B
Director: Paul Andrew Williams Cast: Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Steven O’Donnell, Jennifer Ellison, Logan Wong, Jonathan Chan-Pensley, Dave Legeno Release: 2008
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