The Cottage

Day Twenty Two of the 2010 Silver Shamrock Happy Halloween Countdown!

Happy Halloween Countdown Day Twenty Two

The Cottage
Different movie genres are stocked with different kinds of characters.  I don’t mean the obvious difference like monster movies have characters such as The Gillman or Dracula while romantic comedies have Jennifer Anniston. I’m talking about something a tad more subtle; consider a pretty woman in a long skirt selling single roses on the street – in a vampire movie she’d be lunch, while in a romantic comedy she’d be Denise Richardson, poised to meet the man of her dreams; in an action-adventure film she’s probably carrying a gun and about to shoot James Bond — or have sex with him, depending on her relative hotness.  In all three instances she is a flower girl, but the qualities of her character are defined by what we expect to see from the genre of the movie.  What happens when we pluck the flower girl with a gun from the action movie and switch her with the flower girl from the vampire movie?  If she has silver bullets, we’d have either a really short movie or a possible plot for next Resident Evil film.

We saw a movie genre character mash-up earlier this month in The Dark Old House, where five characters from a musical comedy wander into a murder mystery.  I thought it worked well, but then again, with James Whale behind the camera and Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey,  Ernest Thesiger and Melvyn Douglas in front of the camera, how could it not work?  The Cottage tries the trick of genre twisting in the manner of The Old Dark House, only this time, instead of five characters from a musical-comedy we have six characters from a crime caper wandering into a horror film.

Tough guy David, (Andy Serkis) and his weak-kneed brother Peter, (Reece Shearsmith) have cunning plan to a kidnap the lovely and foulmouthed twenty-something step-daughter (Jennifer Ellison) of a local club owner and hold her for ransom.  David has it all thought out.  He has secured a cottage in the country to use as a hide out and he has a man on the inside, the club owner’s browbeaten son, Andrew (Steven O’Donnell), to deliver the money.  Sadly for David, his brother Peter and his co-conspirator Andrew are not up to the job.  Peter is a quivering bag of neuroses and Andrew is just plain dumb.   To make matters worse, Tracey, the girl they’ve kidnapped, is meaner and smarter than they are and instead of showing fear, she hurls insults at them and breaks Peter’s nose even though she’s tied up.  They are followed to the cabin by two Chinese assassins.

The first part of the movie, which plays like a dark comedy crime movie, works well due to the strength of the performances, especially Andy Serkis’ performance.  Andy Serkis is fun to watch and it’s no stretch to feel his pain as he watches his carefully planned kidnapping worked over by his inept accomplices and the girl they intended to ransom. The second part of the movie, where it turns to horror, is carried more by Reece Shearsmith and Jennifer Ellsion. Shearsmith has a flair for dark comedy and horror.  He is as brilliant here as he is in League of Gentlemen.  Ellison is drop dead gorgeous, which makes her constant stream of profane invective even more jarring.  The conflict between the two of them is hysterically funny.

The Cottage, when compared to The Dark Old House, is definitely less subtle and original, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t work – it does.  If I had to compare it to another film that mixes horror with other genres, I’d compare it to From Dusk Til Dawn.  Both films start as crime capers and turn to horror and bot change gears in the middle, turning from one genre to another with success, though The Cottage, when it switches, does so in a less jarring manner.

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