Cold Creek Manor

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/01/2004

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Below-average, occasionally laughable thriller that just about qualifies as a ‘good bad movie’.

If Cold Creek Manor and In The Cut are anything to go by, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was the ‘in’ thing for previously respected directors (Jane Campion, Mike ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ Figgis) to suddenly decide to do a Channel Five-type thriller, just for kicks.

Ridiculously Stupid Scenes

Unfortunately, where In The Cut had eroticism and a sense of visual style, all Cold Creek Manor has is a clunky plot, some ridiculously stupid scenes and another wildly over-the-top performance from Stephen Dorff, though it does have decent performances elsewhere.

Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone play married couple Cooper and Leah Tilson. When their youngest child (Ryan Wilson) is nearly run over in the city, they decide to relocate to the sticks of New York state and move into a huge, recently repossessed house that’s in need of restoration. However, the locals seem uneasy with their presence and they soon learn that the house once belonged to recently-released ex-con Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff). So, when Massie comes around offering to help them restore the place, they rather foolishly accept and it isn’t long before “accidents” start happening…

Cold Creek Manor is the sort of thriller where the supposedly scary bits are either so overdone or just so plain stupid that they’re laughable. For example, at one point, the Tilsons are attacked in the house by lots of snakes – they flee upstairs to the roof and yet, as they try to close the door behind them, a snake is in the way. So was the snake already there (in which case each one of them stepped over it without noticing) or did it run up the stairs after them? Similarly, the family horse meets a particularly gruesome fate and it’s hard to imagine one man dragging the horse’s corpse around and bunging it in the swimming pool.

Plot Logic Abandoned

Towards the end of the film, plot logic goes out the window completely and the characters behave so stupidly that you’ll be hard pressed not to shout at them. For example, having pushed Leah down a well, Massie doesn’t bother sneaking up on Cooper and pushing him down too, even when Cooper is using both hands to help Leah back up. Similarly, Cooper leaves Leah behind for no reason, and so on, and so on.

Apart from Dorff’s giddy theatrics, the other performances aren’t bad. It’s a treat to see Sharon Stone on the big screen again, for one thing – let’s hope she lands some other big roles soon. Quaid is as reliable as ever and there are a couple of well-acted scenes between the two leads where you wish Figgis had given up on the thriller element and instead made a film about their disintegrating marriage.

There’s also good support from Kristen Stewart (from Panic Room), Dana Eskelson (as the local cop) and Juliette Lewis as Dorff’s slutty girlfriend.

In short, Cold Creek Manor is a pretty dismal, entirely predictable thriller but it has a couple of good performances and affords a few laughs along the way. Probably best to wait for the video, though.

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Content updated: 12/11/2019 13:27

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