Andy Serkis,

The Establishing Shot: The Cottage Review

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

I remember seeing the trailers for The Cottage and the posters in the Tube stations for its release a couple of years ago. My other half wasn’t sufficiently impressed by what she saw to merit a visit to the cinema. I think the trailers put me off a little bit and I formed an opinion on what to expect from The Cottage and possibly decided there was no real rush to see it. After seeing Paul Andrew Williams’ Cherry Tree Lane a couple of weeks ago – my interest was rekindled and I tracked it down. All I can say is I’m so glad I did.

The Cottage was Paul Andrew Williams’ second film, his follow to the promising London to Brighton. Presumably on the basis of that promise he managed to get Andy Serkis (very talented and very in demand after playing Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy), Reece Shearsmith (quarter of the dark genius that is The League of Gentlemen) and Jennifer Ellison (yea, that one) involved.

So The Cottage starts in a dark country lane, we drop in on a balaclava’ed trio of people and find out that – a pair of siblings David (Andy Serkis) Peter (Reece Shearsmith) have just kidnapped the buxom Tracey (Jennifer Ellison). Very quickly we establish that David (Andy Serkis) is the brains of the operation and that Peter (Reece Shearsmith) is an average guy in, way over his head. Serkis’s character is a bit of a lad that is down on his luck and desperately seeking a way out of the hole he has found himself in. He has involved his brother in a scheme that involves kidnapping a local hoods daughter in an effort to raise money (ransom) to get himself out of the hole, as well as allow his brother to pay off their recently deceased mother’s home. The Cottage where this is all taking place.

Things don’t go to plan as Tracey (Jennifer Ellison) is more than a handful and pretty soon she has distracted Peter and beaten him black & blue. The tension mounts as Tracey plays a cat & mouse game with the brothers, the cracks in the brother’s relationship start widening as David becomes more frustrated with the hapless Peter’s total incompetence at crime. This is not helped by the arrival of Tracey’s stepbrother and accomplice in the kidnapping – Andrew (Steven O’Donnell) he is not the sharpest button on the jacket and very quickly Tracey is aware of the kidnapper’s identities. They are also city folk/fish out of the water that have to deal with some very unfriendly locals – who don’t like strangers.

We also become aware of how dangerous Tracey’s father is as well as the Chinese gangsters he has set on them in the British country side. Although the situation seems grim it has a dark humorous undertow and you’ll be chuckling as all goes awry.

Unfortunately if you haven’t seen The Cottage and continue reading this – It may diminish your enjoyment as there are spoilers.

Around this point the film marvelously shifts gear. It suddenly veers into John Landis territory of the An American Werewolf in London variety. I’m talking unnatural happenings, dark country lanes, blood, gore and lots of black humour. I wasn’t expecting this so it really added some magic to the film, however if you are aware of it and expecting it, your surprise and enjoyment will probably be a lot less than mine.

We discover that the unfriendly locals have a dark secret, a reason to not like strangers in their village as well as at least one feral mutant cannibal in their midst ala The Hills Have Eyes. The gore levels shoot up and the film becomes even more unpredictable.

I absolutely loved The Cottage the set ups and acting are superb. I read some revealing bits on how people ended up in the film but thought the casting was genius. Andy Serkis steals the show and I’m in no way surprised that he has ended up working with John Landis on Burke and Hare.

The Cottage can be visited on DVD right now.

The Cottage Review

: Paul Andrew Williams
Starring: Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison, Steven O’Donnell