DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily DVD news and reviews.
The Cottage (2008)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 5/13/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/13/2008
For decades, Britain has been known for its humor, from Benny Hill to Monty Python to Simon Pegg. In addition, thanks mostly to the movies which came from Hammer Studios, England also has a tradition of horror films. Recently, we've been seeing a combination of the two genres coming across the pond the in likes of Shaun of the Dead and Severance. These films deftly mix laughs with gore and, in the right hands, these hybrids can be very entertaining. The newly released horror/comedy The Cottage hopes to join the elite in this blending of genres.
The Cottage opens with two men, David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) (who we later learn are brothers), arriving at an isolated cottage in the British countryside. They enter the house, inspect it, and then take a bound and gagged woman, Tracey (Jennifer Ellison), from the trunk of the car and tie her up in the bedroom. They have kidnapped Tracey and they demand a ransom from her father, a nightclub owner. With the money, Peter will take complete control of they house which they both inherited from their late mother, and David will flee the country. However, their plan quickly begins to unravel, mostly due to the fact that they've never done anything like this before. Soon, employees of Tracey's father are on the premises and people are running everywhere. But, David and Peter will soon learn that they aren't the most dangerous people lurking in the countryside that night.
While watching The Cottage, I got the feeling that writer/director Paul Andrew Williams had watched many other movies and thought to himself, "I can do that." Not only does the film mirror the aforementioned trend of British horror/comedies, it also shares many traits with American films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes and Wrong Turn (or any other "city folk invade the territories of violent country people).
Because originality is such a rare commodity, we can't necessarily chastise Williams for making a movie which has similarities to other films. We can, however, condemn the way in which he went about making this horror/comedy. Essentially, the first 2/3 of the movie fall more on the comic side, while the last 1/3 is more horror. Actually, up until the 54-minute mark, The Cottage is pretty-much a straight-ahead heist movie, with some jokes scattered about. The first two acts deal with David and Peter attempting to keep their sanity as their plot collapses around them. Most of the jokes come from the fact that Peter is a very nervous man who is deathly afraid of moths. (?!) We also see Peter take quite a beating from everyone, especially Tracey. Then, suddenly, nearly an hour into the film, a monster (of sorts) arrives and the movie takes on a completely different tone. We are immediately assaulted by multiple murders and gore effects and the kidnapping plot is left far behind. I wonder if Williams was attempting to have an effect similar to that in From Dusk to Dawn, where the crime film suddenly became a horror movie. (Oh, and horror fans, don't get too excited by seeing Doug "Pinhead" Bradley's name in the credits. He's only in the film for about a minute.)
The sudden shift in tone from crime/comedy to horror should be a jarring experience for the audience, but it isn't. Why? Because most viewers won't be awake by that point. Williams has given the film the slimmest of stories and even when the killing starts, the movie is sluggishly paced and it's easy to feel as if nothing is happening. The bulk of the first thirty minutes is made up of David arguing with Peter. Then, other people arrive for David to argue with. Then, the characters are running for their lives. Breaking things down further, the movie fails at many of its goals. There are some funny moments here (with my favorite joke involving a coffee mug), but most of the jokes deal with everyone in the movie being stupid and forgetful and these soon wear thin. The film's third act does contain some gory murders, but there is no suspense here. The fact that the script is weak is really driven home by the lack of emotion from the audience when some of the main characters die.
Describing The Cottage is easy. It plays like Reservoir Dogs meets Severance meets Wrong Turn. Watching the film isn't quite as easy. Any movie which wants to mix genres should either do it quite subtlely or be completely over the top. The Cottage is neither as it clumsily attempts to work jokes into a crime narrative and then abandons this altogether to become a Texas Chainsaw rip-off. The result is a boring film which won't satisfy anyone. Do yourself a favor, go away for the weekend a rent a real cottage instead.
The Cottage dwells on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, as the picture shows only a slight amount of grain at times, and no major defects from the source material. This is a nicely balanced transfer, as the film takes place at night, in dark locations, but the action is always visible. The colors look fine and the framing appears to be correct. I did note some mild artifacting in some shots and the image lacks in detail at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The dynamic range on this track is out of whack, as the music is far louder than the dialogue -- and the fact that Serkis mumbles throughout the film doesn't help. I found myself constantly adjusting the volume. That aside, the stereo effects are good and there is an abundance of surround sound action throughout the movie.
The Cottage DVD contains only a handful of extras. The disc offers nine DELETED SCENES which run about 12 minutes. Othere than a scene which features a character who was cut from the finished film, these are mainly extended or expanded versions of existing scenes. There is a 5-minute reel of OUTTAKES. The final extra is a STORYBOARD GALLERY which features drawings from two scenes.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long