This is the worst night of my life! Not only have I met you, I've stumbled into the only house in the country with someone worse than you!
You know you're in for something offbeat at the start of The Cottage as a bouncy Danny Elfman-esque score heralds a playful title sequence. The DVD's cover art, at first glance, suggests a dark, low budget horror film. However, the very British The Cottage is one of those cross-genre flicks like the original From Dusk Till Dawn. The first half of The Cottage is a surprisingly effective crime caper comedy that then transitions to a gory slasher film send-up in its second half. Each part is amusing - though this doesn't quite ultimately reach the classic status of horror / humor hybrids like Shaun of the Dead.
In The Cottage, we are introduced to David and Peter, two bumbling and bickering brothers who have kidnapped a young girl from a club and are hiding out in a remote cottage whose electricity is regulated by a coin-operated device. They love to drink tea out of garish mugs with slogans like "I Love Tea." Peter is a real nervous Nellie, insisting at one point that his brother kill a moth flying around a light fixture because he is too scared to do so himself. It seems the girl they've kidnapped for ransom, Tracey, is a firebrand and used to getting her way. She swears like a sailor and causes no end of grief for the brothers. Much of the first half of the film humorously focuses upon how botched this kidnapping is from the start by this brotherly pair of inept criminals and their even more-inept cohort, and assassins sent by Tracey's father to take care of the situation.
Unfortunately for David and Peter, things get even worse. The remote cottage they're in is surrounded by some odd villagers. In fact, one of their neighbors, who looks like he stepped right out of the set of Wrong Turn, is more than a little crazy. And he has some rather sharp instruments. And a lot of bloodlust. The second half of this film, without spoiling too much, serves as a twisted, violent, and bloody slapstick send-up of slasher movies.
David and Peter are played by Andy Serkis (yes, the Gollum in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Reece Shearsmith, and they are quite funny together. It helps that the script gives them clever dialogue and a number of humorous moments. Jennifer Ellison is fun as their appallingly foul-mouthed hostage. The first half of this flick is consistently entertaining, while the second half, though amusing, loses some steam and feels drawn out. The final scene of the film is very satisfying in its macabre but humorous sort of way. This is one of those movies with an additional scene after the closing credits, though it's rather disappointing and the filmmakers should have opted to just end the film.
I'd definitely recommend The Cottage, however, especially to moviegoers who like offbeat cinema.
Sony gives The Cottage a very nice 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Details are sharp with a lot of blue-lit nighttime scenes looking unnatural (as they always do) but strangely pleasing.
There are four audio language tracks on this DVD: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. I listened to the English track, which was Dolby Digital 5.1. The score seemed a little overemphasized, but otherwise, it was pleasant and well-mixed.
Subtitles are also provided in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
When the disc is played, two advertisements automatically begin: the first is an explanation of the bonus digital copy of the film on the DVD and the second is a generic spot about Blu-Ray discs. Following these are trailers for Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, 88 Minutes, Zombie Strippers, and Outpost. As is often the case, Sony is generous with their trailers. The Previews option in the menu allows the viewer to access all the preceding items as well as additional trailers for Loch Ness Terror, the remake of April Fool's Day that looks like it's really a remake of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Revolver, Pistol Whipped, Cleaner, The Tattooist, and Diamond Dogs.
As suggested at the start of the previous paragraph, Sony provides a bonus digital copy of the The Cottage for use on either a PC or a PSP.
Special features specific to the movie are also included. Deleted Scenes has 9 scenes cut from the film - some begin with a title card that gives the context for said scene. They can be played individually or collectively with a Play All option. Outtakes provides what you'd expect it to provide: outtakes and bloopers. A Storyboard Gallery lets you click through storyboard art for two scenes: Peter and Tracey Meet the Farmer and Peter and Tracey Fight the Farmer.
It would have been nice to have a commentary track with this film, but then, I think that about every time I review a DVD without one.
The Cottage is very funny for the first 45 minutes as a crime caper gone horribly awry. The second 45 minutes has some darkly amusing moments as well, but the film loses some consistency as it ventures into slasher film territory. Still, the three leads - Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, and Jennifer Ellison - turn in good performances. If you're a fan of flicks like Shaun of the Dead and From Dusk Till Dawn, then I'd definitely recommend spending a night in The Cottage.