2003
Rated: R for adult language, strong sexual content, and graphic violence.
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Directed By: Mike Figgis
Running Time: 1:58
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 3/14/04
Special Features:
Bonus alternate endings
Deleted Scenes
"Rules of the Genre" featurette
Audio commentary with director Mike Figgs
COLD CREEK MANOR

 

"We got to get out of the city", the character Cooper says after his son gets hit by a car, but he's not killed nor is he injured, he's just bumped and knocked off his feet thus forcing the audience question why he made such a bold decision after such a minor event? But then we wouldn't have a movie then, now would we. When the Tilson family decides to move from the city they stumble upon an abandoned mansion called Cold Creek Manor and discover with its estate it also brings a twisted history along with it, a history that the Tilson's will regret discovering.

I was optimistic about this film; I mean I like Dennis Quaid, I like Sharon Stone and I like Stephen Dorff and I felt with a cast like this they could have pulled out a decent thriller. Of course I was rather disappointed to find that this didn't live up to the potential it might have been able to achieve. The reason why they leave New York is rather questionable and somewhat petty in the first place, the characters in the film don't come off as likable and then they make an unconvincing argument as to why they should move out to the countryside. We're never really told where they moved but we know it's a town with a lot of simple country folk, as the old stereotype requires, and they don't exactly take kindly on city slickers, as the old stereotype would require.

"Cold Creek Manor" is a film that would only be enjoyable if we suspend all logic and common sense, something deftly lacking during the story told during the film. Every character lack common sense, even the maniac who's stereotypically supposed to be smarter than everyone else in the movie. Each of the characters are as unlikable as the next including the principal cast and the two children Kristen and Jessie (badly acted by Kristen Stewart and Ryan Wilson) who are not only annoying and obnoxious but seem to serve no purpose to anyone other than complaining.  Many questions and plot holes tend to come into question during the course of the film and the characters are all so dense and slow to catch on you begin to wonder why you're even bothering watching these people.

Why do they go to a small town to buy a house couldn't they have gone to Long Island or some other place? Why does a family of four need with such a humongous house? And, why do they choose the middle of nowhere to buy a house, a house so closed off to medical assistance and police stations? But then we wouldn't have a movie, now would we? During the middle of the film the character of Cooper begins to build a fascination with the houses history, of course, as the first segment of the film leads us to, we wonder why he's even fascinated with a lot of old garbage anyway.  

The most ridiculous scene that occurs is when the character Dale (played by Stephen Dorff) intrudes into their home declaring he was the previous owner of the house. As with much of the old clichés of thrillers of this caliber, the maniac is not trustworthy, a little enigmatic and erratic but the couple never question him intensely except seem to welcome him with open arms, and welcome they do, hell they even invite him to dinner. What do they do next? They hire him to take care of the house! Now, what person in their right minds would hire a man off the street, especially a man who just crossed all boundaries by breaking into your home and going through your stuff? As all movies with this caliber do, the wife, lovelorn from the husband, begins to have an attraction to the maniac, but even that's barely emphasized upon. The only person who seems to catch onto the maniac Dale is the daughter Kristen who senses something wrong with him, unfortunately that's barely touched upon.

The character Cooper is oddly attracted to the house and its history, and that would have been perfect motivation for him to be so resilient in remaining at house had the history of the house been slightly interesting. As a matter of fact the history of the house is rather vague and broad with some inconsistencies; they were farmers, Dale killed some people, the end. Of course with the history everyone seems to be oblivious about the mansion except the main characters and the character Dale; it's odd how such a large house goes unnoticed.

There's also a lot of conveniently placed items blatantly set up as plot devices for later usage and there's always something so easily found showing that the character Dale isn't as bright as he assumes. The daughter stumbles upon a sign three feet into the woods with the words "Evil" carved into it, the sheriff (Dana Eckleson) just happens to be staring back at Sharon Stone's character when she opens the window setting the audience up for a shock that doesn't shock, and one of the more annoying devices are three hammers set in plain view and at easy reach which Dale describes as "killing hammers."

Then, when the Quaid's character notices one is missing, the character Dale replies "yeah", and then we move onto the next scene, what a poor poor transition when we know it's going to be used later on in the climax. The plot devices continue to pour when the children discover a snake in the pool, the character Dale fearlessly catches it describes which snakes are poisonous and which ones aren't, One of the funnier scenes that I'm sure wasn't meant to be funny is when the family gradually begins to discover snakes lurking within every crevice of their house, and like any other person instead of acting civil they scream non stop, a scene that had me laughing non-stop which is sad because I'm sure it was meant to frighten.

When did he stuff all the snakes within the confines of the house and how come no one noticed it until the next day? How come they all seemed to notice the snakes at the same time? The plot devices and incidents continue but I wouldn't dare ruining it for you, but there are a lot of far-fetched scenes that tend to make no sense; How can such a small man like Dorff's character drag a horse to water, kill it, and lay its body into the water? The final moments leading up to the climactic battle between the Tilsons and Dale is so comical and as with every thriller, the chase and attacks are led to the highest place in the house during a thunderstorm while the maniac and the couple fight to the death with an inevitable swan dive down a window-- yawn!

A rigid, bland, and utterly insulting by the numbers thriller with clichés, plot-holes, and giant lapses in logic galore; this might have had potential with such a big cast, but alas it's dead in the water.

 

 

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