Is The Cottage A Crime Caper Or A Horror Comedy?

the-cottageMr. Furious (that’s my dad) is a bit of an odd duck, especially when it comes to movies. It’s not really accurate to say he has an eclectic taste, it’s more random than that. Some of his favorite movies include Curly Sue, Dudley Do-Right, and While You Were Sleeping. But he also loves movies filled with nudity and gratuitous violence. His main complaint about Troy wasn’t the heavy focus on Brad Pitt’s oiled body, but that the movie wasn’t nearly bloody enough.

Since he doesn’t watch TV and hasn’t rented a movie in this millennium, he buys a lot of DVDs, especially the ones costing $5 dollars or less. If he doesn’t like the movie he’ll try to pawn it off on me, explaining why I own RPM and Dracula 2000, amongst many other forgettable movies. But if he does like the movie, he’ll forcibly loan it to me, whether I want to watch it or not.

One of the latest forced loans was The Cottage. Despite having a horror-centric cover on the DVD, it was purportedly a black comedy about a botched kidnapping and a neighbor with an axe. After letting it sit on the table for a week and having few other prospects at the time, I finally watched it.

David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) are constantly bickering brothers who’ve kidnapped Tracey, the daughter of David’s boss, who also happens to be the boss of the local mob. The plan is that David will use the ransom to move out of the house that he and Peter share, thereby making both men infinitely more happy. It sounds like a pretty lame reason to kidnap a mob boss’ daughter, but this may be one of the best ideas either man has ever had.

Things start to go bad once they realize their victim is a loudmouth full of contempt rather than fear. And then when Tracey’s idiot brother Andrew shows up with the ransom, turns out the bag is full of napkins instead of money. Andrew was in on the kidnapping, but he’s slow and he blabbed about the plot to his hairdresser.

Since there’s no phone in the cottage, David goes down to the local phone booth to try get the mob boss to wire the money and when he gets back he find Peter and Tracey gone. In the few minutes David was out, Tracey was able to use Peter’s crippling fear of moths to take him prisoner and make an escape. Now she’s leading him through the woods to the neighbor’s house.

And then things go from Fargo to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The tonal shift is pretty jarring and makes you wonder if you’re still watching the same movie. The sibling quibbling has been replaced with severed body parts and bodies hanging from hooks. Most of the comedy is gone as the movie turns into survival horror.

Serkis and Shearsmith make a pretty good duo, contrasting David’s brash over-self-confidence with Peter’s whiny momma’s boy, and Andrew the idiot is a decent foil. But the characters and much of the movie becomes forgettable once the horror goes into overdrive. Perhaps the movie would have been more cohesive and memorable if it didn’t seem like two halves of different movies smashed together.

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