A shockingly bland thriller movie from acclaimed English director, Mike Figgis, who gave us intense gems like LEAVING LAS VEGAS or complicated innovations like TIMECODE, COLD CREEK MANOR is a disappointingly low energy thriller that fails to engage the audience. With this year's smart if flawed thriller/horrors like IDENTITY and 28 DAYS, movie-goers should expect more from someone like Figgis.
I can't believe my agent made me do a movie with *you*!
COLD CREEK MANOR marks the return of Sharon Stone to the big screen who has yet to deliver on her promise since her sizzling take-off in 1992's BASIC INSTINCT. She is teamed with Dennis Quaid, who's had a steady stream of hits and misses, as well as Stephen Dorff - a Young Hollywood actor who missed his A-list promise long ago.
Dorff is primarily shirtless eye-candy here, perhaps trying to generate some sexual tension with Stone. He plays the last scion of the family that had built the creepy old Cold Creek Manor. Stone as housefrau rings a little hollow. Perhaps we're too used to her playing the femme fatale. And as he gets older and codgier, Dennis Quaid is starting to bear a closer resemblance to his brother, Randy. Quaid plays the family head, Cooper Tilson, a documentarian who decides to move his family away from New York after his son almost gets hit by an SUV.
The Tilson family leave Manhattan to buy a spooky old mansion in the countryside. The mansion may be haunted, clearly has a past, and gives even the neighborhood hicks the creeps. Queen of white trash roles, Juliette Lewis has a supporting role as a trashy diner waitress who despises the newcomers but loves Dorff's propensity for hip to hip communication. Unfortunately, COLD CREEK MANOR doesn't have a lick of sophistication like, for example, KALIFORNIA, or even reworked formula remakes like HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL.
COLD CREEK MANOR - what a great title - seems to have been directed by Figgis in his sleep because it has nothing particularly interesting about the characters, the plot or the setting. There's a sense of deja vu - the movie retreads TV movie fare - and yet it leaves the few tantalizing clues unexplained - porno polaroids, snakes, creepy names like "The Devil's Hole", sheep slaughter hammers, and macabre children's poetry. We also have a wonderfully wasted cameo from Christopher Plummer!
We've seen this all before in Stephen King books and movies but for some reason, Figgis and writer Richard Jeffries decide to throw some red herrings in for visual effects without explaining how it advances the story. We have a talented cast that is reduced to running and screaming from things that go bump in the night.
But the biggest sin COLD CREEK MANOR commits is to treat the audience as stupid. Horror and thriller fans are far too sophisticated to fall for clumsy plot devices which SCREAM and JEEPERS CREEPERS have enjoyed identifying and spoofing. Why call the police? Why look for something at night when the day would make more sense? By the last 15 minutes of the movie, I was waiting for someone to take an axe to the projectionist - justifiable homicide to save myself from thrombosis.