Saturday, July 5, 2008


Paired up with mottephobic Peter (The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith), David (Andy Serkis) finds himself in the middle of a raging storm of ineptitude as a criminal get-rich-quick scheme goes terribly awry in Paul Andrew Williams’ horror/comedy, The Cottage.
Now, as I’ve mentioned ‘round these parts before, horror/comedies are a tricky bunch, as both aspects—usually regarded as disparate—have to harmonize properly for the work as a whole to succeed.
Sadly, in The Cottage’s case, it’s in the comedy where things get wonky.

The humour in Williams’ script is brutally laboured and distinctly unfunny, and the decision to introduce the horror elements of the narrative rather late in the game puts even more pressure on an aspect of the film that’s already a hobbled mess.
It doesn’t help that Peter comes off as a horribly annoying, spineless twat, which isn’t so much Shearsmith’s fault, but rather that this is what the role asks of him.
It’s to Serkis’ credit that The Cottage is even remotely watchable, as he brings a brooding air to the ‘ard c*nt that David is.
And in those all-too-brief moments when he brings genuine emotion and a welcome humanity to David, Serkis emerges as the indispensable cog that keeps the film’s sputtering engine running.
As for the horror elements, they range from familiar (the threat) to commendable (the gruesome gore and splatter; watch out for that nasty bit of spadework).

What’s all the more curious about this is that The Cottage is Williams’ follow-up to his critically-acclaimed feature debut, London to Brighton.
It’s odd that London to Brighton seemed a much more assured and effective piece. And while the script for The Cottage was reportedly written years ago, even before London to Brighton, I’d like to think Williams would have done some revisions on it before finally bringing it before the cameras.
As it is, The Cottage doesn’t really work very well, and if you’re on the hunt for a British horror/comedy that does its job (and really, who isn’t?), you’d be better served to turn to Christopher Smith’s Severance (review in Archive) or Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (where, incidentally, Shearsmith also appears).
But if you’re a Serkis fan, or can endure lame humour for some brief, bloody bits, then by all means, have at it.
There’s a lot worse out there than what’s in The Cottage.

Parting shot: Hellraiser fans should also note, there’s a Doug Bradley cameo in this, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty negligible. (And please note, it isn’t Mr. Bradley’s fault, either.)

(The Cottage UK quad and images courtesy of

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