What’s would you do if your significant other suddenly disappeared from the face of the Earth, with no trace at all to follow? There are certainly no guidelines for such a situation, and Dale finds himself struggling with his decision-making process even six months after his girlfriend’s disappearance. Thinking that a change of scenery would do him good, he moves into a relatively isolated coastal community, where he can stay for free as long as he makes a daily vlog. This seems easy enough at first, but after a while, he notices strange occurrences and is equally overwhelmed by the bizarreness of some of his neighbors and fellow residents.
It is probably no coincidence that the main character is called Dale – probably a homage to Special Agent Dale Cooper, the main character in the iconic 'Twin Peaks' series, which is also characterized by a small community in the middle of nature, and a set of idiosyncratic characters. The bright outdoors with lush greenery and a peaceful sense of prevailing serenity soon come to odds with the dimly-lit, almost trance-like indoor moments that bring along some disturbing revelations for Dale. He then is forced to investigate the strange situation further, which starts looking like a conspiracy or some sort of weird experiment – the more recent Wayward Pines likewise comes to mind as a potentially astute comparison.
The first three episodes of this miniseries set the scene rather fell, offering some necessary background information on Dale and the location he moves to, before delving straight into the action and throwing one unanswered question after another toward the audience. This is great, as it heightens the prevailing mystery, but likewise offsets the pace a little bit, giving it a slightly rushed feeling. The cliff-hanger endings of each episode do extremely well to keep interest levels high and keep the audiences on the edge of their seats, but likewise push the plot forward too rapidly, without allowing for breathing moments that establish what’s been so far shown. In the greater scheme of things, these are minor hiccups, that do not take away too much from the miniseries’ substance.
If 'Twin Peaks' presented its more offbeat moments in a special audio-visual editing style and wrapped them in a dreamy jazzy tune, 'The Cottages' also plays around with such elements and establishes its own cinematographic style, which is perfectly suited by a selection of electronic music as accompanying score. We personally would have liked to hear a bit more of the score throughout the episodes and especially during some of the key scenes, but hopefully, it’s a case of saving the best for last. All in all, 'The Cottages' certainly got us hooked with its outlandish allure and sense of ever-deepening mystery, and we can warmly recommend it to fans of a genre, who should be in for a treat!