When a movie claims to be based on a true story, I tend to take this with a grain of salt. In some form or another, any movie can have some basis in reality; the writer simply puts their own spin on it. With a movie like The Cottage, I’m not too sure what part is supposed to be the true story. Is it the creepy tenant that kills anyone who gets in his way? Or perhaps it is the fact that the creepy killer stalks families to try and have a relationship with their young daughter? Whatever the truth is, The Cottage pretty much is a story we’ve all heard before, the cautionary tale of the roommate or tenant from hell. But thankfully in the end The Cottage gives a fresh spin on how we perceive the actions of a villain.
The Carpenter family is in desperate need to fill the vacancy of their cottage as the bills are piling up since Chloe (Kristen Dalton) gave birth to their third child. In response to an ad they had posted, Robert (David Arquette), a romance novelist (with a very loyal fan base), comes along and seems like the perfect candidate to be the new tenant at their home. But of course things are simply too good to be true, and it’s not long before the Carpenter family begins to notice things may not be what they seem with their tenant.
Slowly a rift occurs between the family and friends in the household. Some of it comes from the daughters not appreciating the new wife their father (Victor Browne) has brought into their home. But some of the conflict may or may not be orchestrated by Robert as well.
Arquette does a great job at playing the creepy new tenant; the way he goes about stalking the Carpenter daughters from a distance, well, it’s just plain creepy. I’ve never thought of him as a character to ever play the villain, simply because of the fact that nothing about him seems intimidating, but seeing him in this role gave me second thoughts about that. His too-nice demeanor, crossed with his inability to understand boundaries, did set up some red flags to how crazy this character is.
Now the first 2/3 of the movie really is nothing we haven’t seen before. You know creepy things happen, and all suspicion goes to the new tenant. But when one of the daughters goes missing, the movie takes a nice unsuspecting twist. Maybe it’s just me, but as the third act unfolds I found myself slightly understanding why certain characters made the decisions that they do.
It’s unfortunate the film takes so long to give us something new; by the time the fun twists roll around most viewers will have already checked out of this film. But for those who hang in there, I believe they’ll appreciate how things come together. No matter what, though, the film should at the very least remind people the value of completing a background check for any future tenants.