Two bungling brothers (Andy Serkis, Lord of the Rings, and Reece Shearsmith, League of Gentlemen) botch a kidnap and hole up with their foul-mouthed captive (Jennifer Ellison) in the country. But when the boys’ captive escapes, and the cross-country chase leads to an isolated farmhouse, the night takes a more lively - and deathly - turn.
Intended as Williams’ first feature, The Cottage was shelved when his London to Brighton script took off. Pity really, as The Cottage might have fared well enough as a crude calling card. But having established himself with such a gritty thriller, this second-rate horror flick seems particularly lame. And this is appropriate, since the ensuing mutilations to feet and legs, lead to a lot of agonized limping. Not to mention the head-slicing, spine-ripping gruesomeness that’s unleashed when the demented, deformed farmer lets loose his frenzy.
A film of two halves, the first is sitcom-esque, as the battling brothers come off badly against their gobby captive. But captors and captive have to unite when the farmer unleashes his ‘get off my land’ vendetta. And while Williams is successful in both halves, the whole never adds up to the sum of its body parts.
Definitely scary, Williams’ effectively cranks up the claustrophobic tension of the farmhouse-horror. But he feels no need to avoid the clichés – relishes them, in fact. There are moments from The Shining but The Cottage reminds us mostly of The Hills Have Eyes – which is odd, as Williams’ admits he’s never seen either version of that horror classic.
Disappointingly, Williams – so subtle in London to Brighton – lets rip from the start with blaring comedy music that telegraphs a lack of seriousness that fatally undermines the film: a novice’s mistake which makes The Cottage pale in comparison to ‘zombie’ comedy Shaun of the Dead. But if you last the course, stay till after the end-credits for an additional – if wearily pointless – cameo and ‘comedy’ pay-off.
Fun enough for horror junkies and the after-pub Friday evening crowd, it’s notable for Serkis’ lead role. But you’re better off watching Laurel and Hardy and The Hills Have Eyes….or even London to Brighton.