Reviewed by: Ben Cornish
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Plummer | Directed by: Mike Figgis | Produced by: Mike Figgis, Anne Stewart, Richard Jefferies | Written by: Richard Jefferies | Distributor: Touchstone Pictures (a Red Mullt Production)
In “Cold Creek Manor,” Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone star as Cooper and Leah Tilson—worn out Manhattanites who flee the city with their children to create a simpler life in rural Upstate New York. After purchasing an abandoned manor and all of its contents through a bank foreclosure, the Tilson’s begin to restore the grand home.
The restoration project derails when Dale Massie, played by Stephen Dorff, is released from prison and returns to Cold Creek Manor. Massie is the home’s previous owner and his resentment of the Tilson family is obvious from the beginning as he alludes to dark secrets and chilling mysteries contained in the home.
“Cold Creek Manor” begins slowly, offering many questions but few answers. Character development is minimal, but does attempt to provide eerie foreshadowing for a complex and intriguing set of circumstances. Sadly, the foreshadowing is misguided. After about 90 minutes, the movie changes direction and resorts to predictable suspense tactics—rain storms, cut phone lines, axes crashing through doors, and the victimization of family pets. These tactics have been seen many times before, and been done better, in countless other suspense thrillers.
In the finale, the Tilsons undergo dramatic conversions and change from ordinary citizens, whom up this point have demonstrated poor decision making skills and oft wondered, “What do we do now?” into highly trained tactical operatives who manage to defeat an armed criminal with nothing but a stray piece of rope and nonverbal communication.
Despite its ability to create moments of engaging suspense, “Cold Creek Manor” is disturbing in its portrayal of evil. Massie is pure evil—demonstrating senseless murder, blatant drug use, domestic violence and promiscuous sex. A cloud of hopelessness and despair shadow each character and yet the lack of character development never helps the audience explore why. In addition to the sex, violence and drug use there is also brief nudity, glimpses of occult behavior and murder depicted as an appropriate revenge.
It is unfortunate that a film that begins with a promise of intrigue leaves its audience cold.
Violence: Heavy | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Heavy