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The Cottage

March 20, 2008

Paul Andrew Williams caused a bit of a stir in the Artsy film market with his 2006 thriller, London to Brighton, and the success of that would appear to have given him the greenlight to complete the project he really fancied, The Cottage. It’s debatable that he should have continued dining out on the good will generated via that earlier release, and not bothered with this bit of bargain basement budget bollocks, but then this does have the feel of a project written and directed by a man simply unwilling to let it go. And with some impetus, sometimes you just can’t stop a determined man.

It starts off with a fairly tired premise and stutters along from there. Two brothers, David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) arrive at the eponymous cottage, having kidnapped Tracey (Jennifer Ellison). Tracey is connected to a bunch of nasty criminal fraternity types, as you might have already guessed. She’s a foul-mouthed little minx and is very quick to develop gaping holes in the amateurs’ game, and with hired hoodlums on the way to further muddy the waters, the ill-conceived plan is soon blown to bits. This, then, is one of those how-much-worse-can-it-get crime capers, where the least prepared of the bungling duo (Shearsmith) soon gets his nose broken, his jaw broken, his toes mangled, his…etc. You get the picture.

The element that Williams would suggest sets this apart is that at the two-thirds mark everything goes up a gear when the central characters stumble on a reclusive serial killer farmer who makes Leatherface look like Bob the Builder.

Well, maybe. Just a little bit, but essentially the shock of that soon wears off and it’s back to galloping around in the dark to the strains of the Benny Hill theme tune. No, not quite, but it might as well be.

In truth, I didn’t mind it at all, it’s done with good humour for a start, and there is one joke about those excruciating ‘torture porn’ scenes that go on and on, which made me laugh out loud. Shearsmith and Serkis make an interesting pairing with a little bit of genuine chemistry between them, and Ellison has what can only be described as diverting baps. I’m sorry, but it has to be said. They are. What do you want me to say, ferchrissakes?

Ultimately, though, it’s all very derivative and despite the darkness of some of the giggles, neither black enough, nor scary enough, nor funny enough to warrant more than an “it’s OK, yeah”.

So, Paul, it’s OK. Yeah? Try harder next time.

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