Beginning as a botched heist movie, 'The Cottage' soon shifts gear as it ventures into surreal horror, all the while peppered with dry British humour.
The film opens as David (Serkis) and his nerdy younger brother Peter (Shearsmith) arrive at an abandoned cottage a couple of hours outside of London. Tied-up in the boot of their car is feisty blonde bombshell Tracey (Ellison), the daughter of a wealthy businessman known to David, and whom the pair of brothers set out to blackmail for £100,000. While David seems adept at such criminal activity, his cowardly, bumbling and whinging brother is clearly out of his depth and their plan rapidly becomes compromised in comic fashion.
Then, when things can't get much worse, Tracey's dim brother Andrew - who is also in on the heist - unwittingly leads two crazy Chinese assassins to the cottage, and it appears a tense cat-and-mouse thriller is about to unfold. That is until the assassins are found minus their insides, hacked to death by some unknown third party.
As the kidnappers and their victim venture to another house across the woods in search of safety, the film swings into horrific gore fest mode where only some smart dialogue can inject a comic touch into the manic blood-splattered proceedings.
Just as his killer dices open a series of characters, Williams splices genres, chopping a series of films together. There's a whole lot of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' coursing through 'The Cottage's veins, while elements of 'Shaun of the Dead'; 'Hot Fuzz'; 'Psycho' and 'From Dusk Till Dawn' are also evident. Just like those movies, 'The Cottage' begins as one thing before it morphs into something altogether more deranged.
For the most part, Williams delves in and out of genres in an assured manner as the film's strong pacing keeps us entertained throughout. Serkis is the star of the movie as the level-headed David, while Shearsmith's drippy Peter is similarly impressive. Jennifer Ellison's role is restricted to looking good and unleashing profanities in her hard-nosed Liverpudlian twang, which it must be said she executes to near perfection.
Though no classic, and while likely to leave 'London to Brighton' fans feeling ever so slightly short-changed, 'The Cottage' is a mindless, humorous horror romp laced with enough laughs to keep you in your seat and munching popcorn throughout.