Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Mark Hengst, Penny Drake, Nina Fehren, Noelle Kenney, Brooke Lenzi, Kit Paquin and Makinna Ridgway
Directed by Gregg Simon
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
The Cook is the sort of sophomoric slasher flick that knows exactly what kind of movie it is and arrogantly believes that just because it never set out to be anything more than what it is that’s supposed to excuse it for being as rancid as it is. The Cook is the sort of movie defenders of the film will argue wasn’t meant to be taken seriously and therefore we should all just lay back and enjoy it. “Lay back and enjoy it” is also a phrase commonly used by rapists just before they commit their crime. The only defense for a movie like this is that you just don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not a movie any damn good just so long as you get some gore and female nudity. Look; I went into The Cook fully expecting something along the lines of an old Slumber Party Massacre movie and by the end I was wishing I had been watching a Slumber Party Massacre movie. Ah, hell, I’d have preferred another helping of Lake Dead over The Cook.
The first problem we have here is that The Cook fancies itself a horror comedy even though it isn’t scary in the slightest nor is it the least bit funny. To give you an idea where the humor is coming from, one joke is that since the cook is from Hungary someone cracks wise that he is “the Hungary cook” as in “the hungry cook”. Get it? Are you laughing? Me neither. Yet this movie believes that joke’s lameness is what makes it funny and worth repeating more than once. That probably also explains the mindset of the makers believing this lousy movie of theirs is in any way amusing. As I watched The Cook I kept waiting for it to cut to a commercial break where Rhonda Shear or Gilbert Gottfried would appear in wraparound segments to poke fun at just how crummy the movie is.
The second problem is that The Cook borders on being virtually plotless. Call me old fashioned but even with a mindless slasher film I do have some expectation that there be a storyline. Here we get six sorority girls of varying degrees of cattiness left behind at their sorority house after the others have all gone away on a Cabo San Lucas vacation. The new house cook arrives for the weekend, a Hungarian Jim Carrey-meets-Aaron Eckhart gourmet prone to making wacky or menacing faces who only speaks in a goofy foreign accent and nobody knows what he’s really saying – often subtitled outright saying he’s going to kill them – because he says it all in his native language. The cook, of course, turns out to be a psychopath who soon kills one of the girls and makes a meal out of her to feed to the others the next day.
But who cares about such things? The overwhelming majority of the movie’s running time is devoted to the girls either smoking dope, listening to music, watching Nosferatu on TV, playing Trivial Pursuit where they spend way too much time answering trivia questions about better slasher flicks than this, reminiscing about their favorite scenes in better slasher flicks than this, and, most of all, talking about wanting to get laid or someone else’s need to get laid. You’ll be seriously hard-pressed to find one goddamn conversation in this movie that isn’t a completely pointless waste of time. Then again, who needs dialogue that advances the plot when you don’t even have a plot to begin with? The closest we ever get to dialogue that furthers the plot will be whenever someone randomly comments that someone already dead has been missing for awhile.
Would you believe three people are credited for the screenplay? For real?
I’m also unsure how it is that nobody upstairs heard any of those bloodcurdling screams coming from both victims and the cook who also roared as he killed. I’m sure that’s one of those sticking points the film’s defenders will argue I should just ignore because, you know, it’s not like they set out to make a serious film and that automatically means anything goes, right?
The second problem – and this was the biggest movie killer to me – was that I found most of these characters to be detestable human beings. They may have pretty exteriors but the majority of these girls came across as incredibly ugly human beings, a few downright hate-worthy. One’s a bitchy redhead determined to make a lesbian out of the deeply religious girl in the group; she actually comes across as more predatory than the killer himself. The rest of the lot falls into the category of either mindless, shallow, horny, stoner, or all of the above, and all to some degree of dislikeability. There’s no vested interest in wanting to see these ladies live or die. It’s like we’ve all be invited to a slumber party with a bunch of hot girls who are either so braindead or unpleasant to be around that it cancels out their physical attractiveness and all you want to do is leave.
Even the leading lady, a brainy Amanda Peet type who kind of digs the cook because his being from Eastern Europe and a gourmet chef leads her to assume he must be more cultured than her obnoxious sorority sisters, is also a non-starter and shockingly weak for a horror movie heroine.
And don’t go expecting to get much of a backstory explaining the cook either.
Finally, problem #3, not that I needed any more reasons to dislike this film as much as I already do, there is the matter of there being exactly one kill in the first 40-minutes. One! God forbid something were to happen that might interrupt another pot smoking jam session about one’s longing to get laid. After an hour of near nothingness, the majority of the kills and T&A – not nearly enough of either to make any of this tolerable – are crammed into the last 15-minutes when the killer cook finally decides to drop any pretenses and just starts randomly killing everyone. Some of the kills are bloody, some occur partially off-camera, and none are anything we haven’t seen before.
Most aggravating of all is seeing that the people responsible for this stinker possess the technical know-how to make a movie that looks very professional despite what was obviously a miniscule budget. All things considered, this is fairly sleek and polished production. Too bad they wasted a good looking movie with a bunch of good looking women on a nothing of a script. I get the sense these people can do better and hopefully next time they’ll actually try to do so. In that sense The Cook is this year’s Drive Thru. That is not a good thing. That is not a good thing at all.
1/2 out of 5