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Case Number 13338

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The Cook

Anchor Bay // 2008 // 82 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson and the lunch cook from his high school cafeteria were best of friends. She'd charm him with stories of crinkle-cut fries. He'd pay her mortgage. 'Twas a grand time!

The Charge

Sorority Babes: The Other White Meat

Opening Statement

A cannibalistic immigrant cook, rampant nudity and liters of coughed-up blood—a recipe for success or another forgotten schlockfest?

Facts of the Case

The girls of the Lambda Epsilon Zeta sorority house are settling in for a long, boring weekend. Most of their sisters having traipsed off to the beach for a lengthy vacation, the remaining ladies have little to do besides call each other sluts and take off their tops.

But all that excitement comes with a price: a healthy appetite. And because sorority girls have yet to master the fine art of boiling prepackaged noodles in a cup, they bring aboard a chef to provide the comestibles. Meet The Cook (Mark Hengst) a German (?) fellow with a deft touch in the kitchen and a gruesome secret: the secret ingredient of his delicious meals is human flesh, hapless idiot sorority girl human flesh, to be more specific.

The Evidence

Here's the sum total of everything that awaits you in The Cook:

1. Potty-mouthed girls.

2. Close-up shots of meat cutting.

3. Incoherent Germanic screaming.

4. Three scenes of topless female nudity.

Billed as a "black comedy" the film earns the description not because it's funny—it's not, really—but because it's not a serious horror movie. It's got horror elements, sure, but never once does it feel like anything other than an opportunity for Hengst to scream a lot and bug out his eyes and slash the occasional neck and the girls to swear at each other and take bubble baths.

One running gag that did work was the girls' obliviousness to their chef's dark habits. Several times The Cook was caught in the middle of a slice and dice and director Gregg Simon had a nice enough touch to squeeze out the humor in the situation (i.e., one of the girls is too focused on her mp3 player to notice the kitchen is coated in blood). Trouble is, that's all the comedy you can expect.

And that lack of funny is the death-blow to the film, which is marketed as a goofy slasher comedy. In lieu of clever writing, we're given a steady stream of F-bombs and "sluts" and "whores" and "eat me" and even the term "cock run," which is a new one to me. Seriously, all that passes for dialogue is the filthy back-and-forth among the girls, as if the writers had a contest with each other to see who could come up with the most over-the-top bawdy language. Look, I'm no prude, but if I'm to consider an endless stream of girl-on-girl sniping a meaningful substitute for actual comic writing then no thanks.

Oh, there's another ongoing joke about a devoted Christian girl who eventually succumbs to the come-ons of a Dominatrix and ultimately finds herself bound and chained and topless. I guess it's supposed to be funny, you know, nice, conservative Bible thumper leaping at the opportunity to drop the shackles of her inhibitions and get a tongue-bath, but, like the rest of the so-called humor, it's contrived.

The silver lining: the horror elements aren't bad—gory and jumpy, but the dramatic punch is neutered by the light atmosphere. Also, the DVD is solid. Featuring a very clean 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround, the film is a technical success. And the extras are pretty good: a fun commentary with the cast and crew, a behind-the-scenes documentary and Hengst's audition footage.

Closing Statement

Half comedy and half horror. The horror's not bad, but the comedy is DOA and The Cook can't recover.

The Verdict

Guilty. The Sentence: Twenty-five-to-life behind the lunch-counter of the nearest middle school.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 55
Story: 65
Judgment: 58

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Behind-the-Scenes
• Audition Footage

Accomplices

• IMDb








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