The Cook (2008)

Jon’s Thoughts…

The Cook (2008)

April is National Poetry Month and I was planning to celebrate it by posting another round of Haiku Reviews. But I’ve decided against that for a couple of reasons. First, I just discovered the really terrific 353 Haiku Movie Review, a site dedicated entirely to the fine art of Haiku Movie Reviews. Since there’s already a site devoted to the most well-known of Japanese poetry styles, I’ve decided to explore some other possibilities for poetry reviews. In the near future, expect to see reviews of new and classic horror films in the form of sestinas, villanelles, Anglo-Saxon riddles, rounds, rondelles, odes, cantos, Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets, couplets, limericks, ballads, blank verse, and other forms of poetic expression.

So, to kick off my new series, I offer the following Pantoum Review of the recently released slasher The Cook. It’s about—no surprises here—a cook who shows up at at a college sorority house and goes to work as much more than a mere cook. As he chops up one college vixen after another and serves them as dinner, the film develops a strong gross-out factor. The special effects are pretty standard and the film borrows heavily from classic slashers such as Sorority House Massacre and Slumber Party Massacre, while featuring all the clichés you’d expect from a film of this sort. The characters are all caricatures of the college nerd, the sorority tease, the straight-laced bookworm, and so on. However, the cook, brilliantly played by Mark Hengst, brings some unusual and quirky traits to the role of slasher. For example, he has no motivation at all. There’s no back story explaining that he was once spurned by an uptight college girl. He’s simply bonkers. Much of his performance relies on physical comedy, as he has relatively few lines because he’s impersonating a Hungarian who speaks little English. But he gets a lot of mileage out of repeating the phrase “ok.” He’s incredibly fun to watch on screen and I think he’s got a great career ahead of him. The Cook will probably never go down in history as even a cult classic, but slasher fans should check it out, if for no other reason than Hengst’s performance.

The pantoum is a form that first became popular in France in the mid-eighteenth century, but it originates from the South Pacific. The form is simple enough: the first and third lines of the initial quatrain become the first and third of the next. The stanzas follow an ABAB rhyme pattern, and the poem concludes with the very first line. The repetition seems a perfect homage to a film that recycles so much material from earlier slashers, and the form of the pantoum is as quirky and odd as The Cook itself.

A Pantoum Review of THE COOK (2008)

A fake Hungarian arrives on campus to work as a cook.
He kills sorority girls by slicing, dicing, and making sauté.
He offers no reason or motivation from his little phrase book.
The cook’s knife does the talking. His only line in English is “Ok!”

He kills sorority girls by slicing, dicing, and making sauté,
while the only other guy in the film, a hopeless nerd, tries to get laid.
The cook’s knife does the talking. His only line in English is “Ok!”
But the nerd never stops talking, even when he’s afraid.

While the only other guy in the film, a hopeless nerd, tries to get laid,
the sisters are all killed: the bookworm, the tease, the ditz, and the prude.
The nerd never stops talking, even when he’s afraid.
In fact, all the characters are clichés, and they all become food.

The sisters are all killed: the bookworm, the tease, the ditz, and the prude,
even the one who was friendly and pure and played by the book.
In fact, all the characters are clichés, and they all become food,
when a fake Hungarian arrives on campus to work as a cook.

corey’s thoughts…

typically i watch crappy slasher fare from my netflix queue late at night, alone, long after my fiancée has fallen asleep. if i had watched the cook under such conditions, i doubt i’d be writing about it right now as it is not a particularly good movie. however, some films can benefit greatly from the conditions under which they are watched… and the cook is one of those. i watched it with jon (via skype) and was already a couple of drinks into the evening when we started it. those circumstances led to a situation where the cook‘s flaws were minimized and its strengths greatly magnified.

the cook is not well written, acted or directed and is horribly unoriginal. this is a typical straight-to-video horror/comedy slasher with walking stereotypes as characters and no scares. however, the film does have two huge pluses going for it — it’s obvious the filmmakers love the genre and the actor portraying the villain is absolutely brilliant. in regards to the former, all too commonly first-time horror directors make nods and winks to other horror films in a way that is simply annoying (e.g., naming your lead character ‘romero’ or something). the cook references other films, but always cleverly and, more importantly, its obvious in every frame of the film that the people producing it enjoyed every second of working on the cook. that’s not always enough to make a bad script watchable, but in this case it is.

propelling the cook from just ‘watchable’ to ‘fabulously entertaining’ is the performance from the actor playing the title character. mark hengst plays the cook with such zest and enjoyment, it’s not possible to watch it without laughing. so few slasher villains are actually portrayed as ‘crazy.’ michael and jason are mutes and robotic in their movements… freddy may be evil, but he’s clearly rational. the cook is a raving lunatic who can’t be reasoned with… not because he’s an unfeeling killing machine, but because he’s completely off his nut (see my short compilation video below).

i wholeheartedly recommend the cook to any slasher fan, although i would suggest you watch it with a friend or two who are likely to enjoy such a ridiculous, over-the-top film. and please, please… keep watching through the credits to see some outtakes that are actually worth waiting for.

2 Responses to The Cook (2008)

  1. patrick says:

    When I heard that Haiku movie reviews were not to be features I was sadden; but I find that you have struck out into fresh snow and made, as one might say, it your own. A poetic review carved yellow into the pristine white of the web movie review scene. Oh nad one style is not enough! A litany of styles and forms as if taken from the Syllabus of a Freshman English class well been pressed into service for the amusements of your gentle readers; how fortunate we are!

    I have never seen The Cook, but and I’m not a slasher fan so I can bet that i won’t. I can say with some confident that the review was probably the best part of the movie.

  2. Colleeny says:

    Thanks for the link love for 353 Haiku Movie Review. Please don’t eliminate Haiku from your film related repertoire. The more poetry in the world the better. I use Haiku, Tanka, Filimerick, and on one strange night Concrete to express my thought in a concise form.
    Love the site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe Without Commenting

Subscribe without commenting