The art of the horror comedy is in juxtaposing terror with humour until both are intensified into hysteria. Good examples of the genre include John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 and Wes Craven’s Scream. The Cottage, Paul Andrew Williams’ follow-up to his debut 2006 feature, London to Brighton, is neither funny nor especially frightening, and it sure ain’t art. It’s not even good trash. Williams has taken the staples of the low-budget slasher movie – small cast, limited locations, minimal plot, lots of gore – and given them a supposedly post-modern spin of grisly absurdity. The story involves the bungled kidnapping of a crime boss’ daughter (Jennifer Ellison) by two brothers (Andy Serkis and Reece Shearsmith), who hide away in a lonely cottage in the forest and run afoul of a seriously disfigured serial killer.
The Cottage isn’t Grand Guignol slapstick like Evil Dead 2 or sly genre deconstruction like Scream; and it’s certainly not a harmless spoof like Scary Movie. It’s basically a gore led B-movie, complete with (extremely realistic) scenes of brutality and dismemberment, unaccountably played for laughs. Apparently Williams (who also wrote the script, what there is of it) thinks a person writhing in agony is amusing in and of itself. London to Brighton was a thoughtful, disturbing work about the repercussions of violence. The Cottage seems to have been made by someone with the sensibilities of a serial killer.
General release from Fri 14 Mar.