Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None listed
MIKE Figgis has been responsible for some of the most striking
movies of recent years, ranging from the tense Internal Affairs,
through to the Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas, and even the innovative
Time Code - a point which makes his latest effort all the more
Cold Creek Manor, about a family whose dream move from the city
to a house in the country turns into a nightmare, is billed as
a taught psychological thriller, yet, sadly, ends up as a hopelessly
brain-dead comedy of errors.
Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid star as the mother and father in
question (the Tilsons), who resolve to escape the hustle-and-bustle
of the big city (in this case, New York), in favour of the relaxing
environment of the countryside, where they can concentrate on
being a family.
Moving into a recently repossessed mansion in the sticks of New
York State, the duo begin to renovate the property, only to find
themselves terrorised by its former owner, Stephen Dorffs
psychologically unhinged Dale Massie, who harbours a number of
dark secrets from his past.
Cold Creek Manor is one of those movies that takes an intriguing
premise and consistently squanders the opportunities offered by
it, relying on tired and predictable cliches, rather than anything
which might cast a fresh perspective on a well-trodden genre.
The audience consistently remains a couple of steps ahead of
the protagonists, while the family in question actually seem to
get more stupid, the deeper they find themselves in trouble.
Hence, what could have become an intense battle of wits between
Quaids family man and Dorffs abused villain, in the
mould of the struggle between Richard Gere and Andy Garcia in
Internal Affairs, is reduced to a routine succession of poorly-scripted
confrontations, all of which merely serve to countdown to the
As for the mystery which surrounds the property, itself, this
too becomes lost amid the stupidity on show, particularly as it
becomes apparent, early on, what the dark secret is, and especially
since Figgis continually drops crass hints, such as the children
unearthing a sign, at one stage, which reads Evil.
Had the film gone for a tongue-in-cheek approach throughout,
it may have worked better, yet the level of the performances seem
to suggest that this was meant to be taken seriously, as a suspense
thriller, which only serves to make its failure more glaring.
Of the performers themselves, Quaid and Stone seem intent on
becoming one of the most laughable families-in-peril for a long
time, making one bad decision after another, while Dorff is simply
terrible as Massie, seemingly content to play it like a brooding
Mickey Rourke mixed with Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Juliette Lewis, as Dorffs girlfriend, once again proves
that she can play white-trash like no one else, while Christopher
Plummer hams it up outrageously, as an abusive father.
Figgis does succeed in throwing in the odd moment to alleviate
the tedium, such as a comic confrontation with a house full of
snakes, but, for the most part, this is a hopelessly mis-judged
affair that eventually outstays its welcome.
Sometimes the laughs, albeit inadvertent ones, just arent