Cold Creek Manor
doesn't happen too often, but I got totally snookered by the coming
attractions trailer for this film. It looked like a genuinely scary
film, with hints of a haunted house, an unsolved murder, action, scares...
I was really looking forward to seeing Cold Creek Manor.
Sadly, this film is
the biggest waste of a terrific trailer since Warren Beatty's Bulworth.
This movie doesn't deliver on any of the promises that its advertisement
of a complex ghost story thriller, we are subjected to an old, clichéd thriller about a
redneck (are there rednecks in Connecticut?) terrorizing a yuppie family
that befriends him.
Quaid and Sharon Stone play Cooper and Leah Tilson, a picture-perfect New
York couple. He's a respected documentary filmmaker, and she brings in
the bacon as a highly paid executive. But one day, the family is
touched by the violence of the city, and Quaid decides he wants to buy a big
old house in Connecticut.
just the first of the decisions that don't make sense for the couple.
Sure, lots of successful couples move out of Manhattan to more impressive
spreads up north, but this home is so far away that Stone has to give up her
job. Considering what kind of money documentarians tend to make, this seems a little
they have been there for a short time, the house is broken into by a leering
ex-con (Stephen Dorff) who grew up in the house and soon is rolling up a joint in
front of a family he just met. Being nice, with-it liberals, the
Tilsons decide not to judge him and offer him a job as handyman. This seems really foolish...
after, the con starts flirting with her under-aged teenaged daughter. Stone replies by
flirting with him, too. This seems ridiculous.
course it's only a matter of time before Quaid and Dorff are in the midst of
a battle royale over the house and the women. Because Quaid is
sensitive and loving, he is not willing to fight dirty. Dorff has no
such problem. This leads to a predictable series of horror film
situations, followed by a ending that I will admit is truly surprising.
Considering the story, though, this climax is probably inevitable, and
I doubt it will be satisfying to most viewers.
The acting slightly rises
over the level of the material. Quaid is his normal stolid presence in
this film. If you occasionally want to shake him and tell him to wake
up to what's happening to his family, that's more an indictment on the
script than Quaid's performance. Stone also has her trademark ice
queen charm in her role,
she is rather likable despite the dumb things her character does.
Dorff is a sneering
cliché as he continues his professional arc of only appearing in truly
repugnant films since his breakthrough in the charming Backbeat
almost a decade ago.
Cold Creek Manor also
continues the weird career trajectory of talented director Mike Figgis, who
continues to confound his fans with each project he has taken since his
wonderful Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas. Eight years later,
you have to wonder if that film was the fluke, not the ones he has done
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Posted: September 28, 2003.