Loco yokel

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

THE COT­TAGE Di­rected by Paul Andrew Wil­liams. Star­ring Reece Shear­smith, Andy Serkis, Jen­nifer El­li­son, Dave Legeno, Katy Mur­phy 16 cert, gen re­lease, 92 min

IMAG­INE, for a mo­ment, that, af­ter di­rect­ing Poor Cow, his fea­ture de­but, Ken Loach em­barked on a Norman Wis­dom com­edy or a film about flesh-eat­ing lizards star­ring Peter Cush­ing.

Well, okay, that is over­stat­ing the case a lit­tle. But Paul Andrew Wil­liams’s fine Lon­don to Brighton was, de­spite its out­breaks of black hu­mour, cer­tainly an aus­tere, grimly se­ri­ous piece of work. The Cot­tage, by way of con­trast, is a hor­ror com­edy with no grand am­bi­tions be­yond its honourable mis­sion to amuse and ap­pal. It doesn’t quite come off, but it’s good to see a young film-maker ex­er­cis­ing all his creative mus­cles.

You cer­tainly can’t fault the cast­ing. Reece Shear­smith, late of The League of Gen­tle­men, and Andy Serkis, Eng­land’s swarthi­est rogue, play two brothers with a mis­guided scheme to make a dis­hon­est for­tune. Be­fore the film be­gins, they kid­nap a pow­er­ful hood­lum’s daugh­ter, dump her in the boot of her car and drive her to a re­mote cot­tage. When you hear that their cap­tive is played by the Liver­pudlian foghorn that goes by the name of Jen­nifer El­li­son, you will un­der­stand that they are in for an un­com­fort­able time.

The open­ing se­quences work well enough. Each of the three leads has a sure grasp of his or her broad char­ac­ter, and they all bicker and pout with com­mend­able de­grees of con­vic­tion. But the film does come off the rails some­what when it wan­ders into hor­ror ter­ri­tory.

Crit­ics of macabre cin­ema do, per­haps, go on a lit­tle too much about the ad­vis­abil­ity of keep­ing the mon­ster in the shad­ows. When, how­ever, your psy­cho­pathic farmer looks like some­thing out of I Was a Teenage Franken­stein, a de­gree of cin­e­mato­graphic dis­cre­tion may in­deed be ad­vis­able. The scenes in which the he­roes flee the rub­bery ma­niac are, sadly, nei­ther tense enough to be prop­erly un­set­tling nor funny enough to raise any­thing more than a tol­er­ant tit­ter.

Still, The Cot­tage is never less than fun, and it’s hard – nay, im­pos­si­ble – to dis­like a film with the tag line “Get off his land!” You sure wouldn’t get that from Ken Loach.

Sheer ter­ror: Reece Shear­smith

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