Sharon Stone returns to mainstream theaters for the first time in four years and Dennis Quaid looks to continue his powerful career resurgence with Cold Creek Manor, a thriller where murder is bound to happen. Unfortunately, this so-called thriller isn't going to do much for either of their careers, as it is easily forgettable.
Quaid stars as Cooper Tilson, a husband and father who moves his family out of hectic New York City to a large mansion in the middle of nowhere. His wife, Leah (Stone), is hesitant, as is their children, and things don't help when the previous owner, Dale Massie, an ex-convict with a violent past (Stephen Dorff) shows up. As strange things start to happen, Cooper begins to suspect that Dale wants them out of their house, and that he was responsible for the sudden disappearance of his own wife and children.
Cold Creek Manor has the typical plot of a family moving into an abandoned mansion in the middle of nowhere, and in every way is average and unoriginal. The plot developments are formulaic and cliche, and completely predictable. It is quite obvious that the horse is going to go the Godfather route, as is everything else. What really gets me is that I was actually using my brain a fair amount through the course of the movie, trying to guess what the big twist was going to be... As it turns out, there is no big twist. Cold Creek Manor had so much potential to be good just by throwing in a few twists - instead, it is completely linear and conventional, and by the end completely uninteresting.
Very few people involved in this movie do a very good job, including director Mike Figgis. He does a good job of creating a creepy atmosphere, but fails miserably to capitalize on it. He has an entire spooky house and surrounding woods to scare the audience, but instead throws in some suspenseful music and then goes to the next scene. The worst scene of the movie, which, apparently was also supposed to be the scariest, involves the family being attacked by a bunch of snakes at exactly the same time (like the penguins in Batman Returns?). Quaid, Stone and their two kids run around like idiots as the snakes stalk them for some reason.
Neither Quaid and Stone are very interesting in this movie; both are left to scrape tidbits of real character from the script, and whether it be the dialogue given to them or the way the words come out of their mouth, are not very convincing. Ryan Wilson's character, Jesse (the little boy), is incredibly annoying and stupid, with more fault to the script than Wilson's performance. Kristen Stewart (Panic Room) does a decent job at the daughter, but the only really good performance is that of Dorff, who is creepy and uncunning. Still, compared to some cinematic villains, he leaves little to be desired for.
Oh, and Quaid and Stone do every stupid thing possible in the last 20 minutes of the movie, such as splitting up more than once, shouting when they know the bad guy is nearby, running into clearings when they know the bad guy is nearby, locking the door and sighing a breath of relief when they should know that the bad guy is already in the house, running upstairs to the roof, and more.
Cold Creek Manor is a disappointing thriller that is not helped by the fact that marketing suggested that there was a supernatural theme; nevertheless, a few twists would have helped as well. Instead, it lacks any originality or suspense, which leaves nothing more than a pretty shell - and what good are empty shells?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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