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The Cottage (Unrated) - horror DVD review
THE COTTAGE (UNRATED) Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison, Steven O'Donnell
Directors: Paul Andrew Williams   Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD release: 13 May 2008   Runtime: 91 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English, French, Spanish, Portugese), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Portugese), Deleted scenes, Outtakes, Storyboard gallery

Directed by Paul Andrew Williams, The Cottage is quite a strange little comedy horror film that is not for all tastes, though I personally enjoyed it. My best suggestion: if you liked Shaun of the Dead, with its impressive ability to mix comedy with gory horror, then you will probably like The Cottage. However, this is not a zombie film like Shaun of the Dead. Rather, it's more like, I kid you not, a mix between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the '80s comedy Ruthless People.

The main criticism of the film is that it does not mix the comedy and horror throughout, but rather is almost two separate films in one. The first hour is the Ruthless People part, as two desperate brothers, David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith), make the tragic mistake of kidnapping Tracey (Jennifer Ellison), the stepdaughter of a London mob boss, and taking her to their hideout. Their ill-conceived plan involves Tracey's stepbrother, Andrew (Steven O'Donnell), carrying the ransom to the brothers, then for the brothers and Andrew to split the ransom.

Like the '80s classic, the bumbling kidnappers are much more sympathetic than their hostage - she is obviously tougher, smarter, meaner, and more than any of them can handle. Indeed, the three kidnappers sort of mimic The Three Stooges, with David as Moe, Peter as Larry, and Andrew as Curly. Peter is obviously way in over his head and does not have the stomach for the plan (he carries a mug with I ♥ Tea written on it). Without spoiling the jokes, the stupid careless mistakes that Peter and Andrew make, combined with David's ever-increasing exasperation, are quite funny (the acting by the leads is quite good, by the way).

At the halfway point, however, the film takes a strong left turn toward horror. When David has to leave the cottage to make a phone call, Tracey escapes and takes Peter as her hostage (not really a spoiler, as anyone watching the film should expect that Tracey will eventually escape from these nitwits). The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part of the film starts when Tracey and David break into a nearby farmhouse in search of a phone. What they find leads to some quite effective jump scares, as well as some gory moments, all culminating in a pretty good "Boo!" scare at the end.

The rather sharp divide in tone halfway through the film might be off-putting for many viewers. Those wanting a dark comedy might be turned off by the gory kills in the second half, while gore hounds might be impatient with the first half, which is almost strictly a comedy. For me, the first half actually made the second more effective; I found that I cared about the bumbling kidnappers, which made me more scared for them in the second half.

Did the film work for me? Yes, I did find it entertaining. Then again, I was a fan of Shaun of the Dead, too. I'd recommend this one for late-night viewing with a big bag of popcorn. Laugh at the start, but get ready to scream at the end. (P.S.: Be sure to watch to the end of the credits.)

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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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