Trying to cash in on the witty British horror comedy thing that became all the rage with the success of "Shaun of the Dead," "The Cottage" suffers from the same kind of malady that "Severed" did. It's too witty for its own good -- and the filmmakers seriously don't seem to enjoy horror movies very much.
Serkis (Golem in "Lord of the Rings") and Reece Shearsmith (of "Shaun of the Dead" play brothers who concoct a "Fargo"-like scheme to kidnap the daughter of a local crime lord -- using the cooperation of the boss' own brother in the scam. But when they kidnap the feisty daughter (played with gusto by hot British up-and-comer Jennifer Ellison) things go terribly wrong with the plot.
Shearsmith is a fraidy cat and Ellison easily gets the best of him, breaking his nose and jaw and eventually taking him hostage. The bungling kidnappers forget to wear their masks, revealing their identities to the young lady who promises she will tell her father who will have them all killed -- or at least their knees broken.
But things go even worse when the neighbor of the cottage they are holing up in turns out to be a psychotic, deformed killer in overalls. Pretty soon the kidnapped and kidnappers are united in a battle for their lives against the evil next door.
I'd say this slapstick comedy is a minor step above "Severance," but it's fair to say that had "Shaun of the Dead" hadn't been such a huge hit they wouldn't have been making these lukewarm horror comedies in Great Britain. The nation that used to be a world capitol for horror has degerated into a land of light horror comedies. Meanwhile, the Nasty Froggies on the mainland are cranking out horror classic after horror classic: "High Tension," "Inside", "Frontiere(s)", etc. The "horror" that turns up in "The Cottage" is so light and comedic, it utterly pales in comparison to the real terror the French are putting on film. The Brits should be ashamed that the Froggies are taking the piss out of them like this.
In short, "The Cottage" doesn't have enough horror to satisfy horror fans and not enough comedy to satisfy everybody else. Making a horror comedy is difficult business because the films need to work in both genres. "Shaun of the Dead" was amazing because it actually was a light comedy and a decent horror movie at the same time. "Cottage" doesn't succeed in either realm.
There are two things that are pretty good about this movie: Reece Shearsmith is pretty funny as the whimp. And the score by a woman named Laura Rossi actually evokes Bernard Herrmann. It creates some moments of tension in an otherwise tenseless film. Hopefully she'll be doing more horror movie music.
Doug Bradley of "Hellraiser" fame shows up for a brief cameo to give the film a little street cred, but it isn't enough to save this movie. It's an OK time waster but nothing worth making room in your schedule, with so many great French horror movies left to watch.