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Cold Creek Manor (2003)
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Review Date: September 11, 2003
Director: Mike Figgis
Writer: Richard Jefferies
Producers: Mike Figgis, Annie Stewart
Actors:
Dennis Quaid
Sharon Stone
Stephen Dorff
Plot:
Sick of living in the "big city", a typical hussle-bussle family move into the boonies and refurbish an old manor, sold to them for a steal because of its previous owners' inability to make payments to the bank. Filtering through the former family's private affairs, the documentarian husband decides to study their things in order to...well, actually, I have no idea why he does so...I guess he's just a nosy, insensitive man whose mother never taught him to keep his snout out of other people's business. Eventually, the previous owner returns and well...yeah, he doesn't like the fact that city folk are snooping around his beezwacks. Can you blame the guy? Dead horses in pools ensue.
Critique:
Yikes...what happened here? In what starts as, and appears to be, a creepy, sorted "scary movie" about a broken down old haunted house, turns out to be a snoozer featuring a lame-o family with zero charisma or personality, a bad guy who you root for all the way, a local sheriff who has gotta be one of the most ineffective lawwomen this side of my big ass and a second half that gives away its cards early on, provides almost no tension or suspense and finishes things off by hopping from hole to hole as the plot machinations simply do not add up. One specific scene involving snakes is particularly set-up and overdone, as is the film's overwrought score, which booms in the background as if it were following Tom Cruise and his lawyer buddies from THE FIRM. The only reason to catch this movie anywhere would be to watch actor Stephen Dorff having a blast with his greasy character, a man who doesn't like many people, a man who nobody seems to like (except for the trailer trash tramp of the town-- an ideally cast Juliette Lewis) and a man, who, for some strange reason, nobody seems to be able to relate to any of the bad things sprouting up about town. Hello!?! The man is a bad apple. The man sneers at every turn and punches girls out in bars! (although, let's be honest...haven't we all secretly wanted to smack Lewis out for years now-no anti-abuse emails please) Uuuuuhm, Ms. Sheriff, how about you do your goddamn job and slap the shackles on this manimal!! Needless to say, nobody does jack to the gent, which is why we get to enjoy more of his sneering and ripped-abs all the way through the rest of the predictable storyline.

The whole reminded me a lot of THE HAUNTING, with a somewhat decent, somewhat creepy start and apparent goal to transform into a real thriller, while ultimately fizzling out into your typical man-on-the-vengeful-warpath scenario, stupid moves and all. Why stand in front of a gaping hole when you know there's a bad guy around? Why not leave town instead of continuing to "investigate" the matter further? Better yet, how about you leave the man's personal property alone in the first place?! And oh...for the love of God...when there's a bad guy around, don't run UP the stairs onto the roof...run OUT the door! Also, why the heck is everybody so afraid of this guy? The last time I checked, we're dealing with a shrimp of a man who carries no guns or knives of any sort. The last time I checked, a couple of beefcakes sitting down on him would resolve the entire problem asap. And that's nothing against Dorff, because he does actually give his character the right twinge of Max Cady, but c'mon...Sharon Stone's sweet ass could have kicked this guy out of that un-haunted house in a second! Anyway, those are only a few of my frustrations with the plot and the characters, both of which simply did not connect or amalgamate into anything special. The actors are all decent, with a special nod to Dorff, the directing, decent, but nothing to write home about, and the pace, well, not so good...with the first half developing really slowly and seemingly going into one direction and the second half bogging down into the routine and predictable. See it on video for Dorff, Stone's undie ass shot or the good-looking young dude/chick from PANIC ROOM, but avoid it if you're looking for something creepy, haunted or good. Then again, maybe if you go in KNOWING that this isn't a haunted house movie, you might enjoy it a little more than I did. Then again...maybe not. Thumbs down to the marketing team behind this one.

PS: This has nothing to do with my review per se, but I caught actor Stephen Dorff on the "Craig Kilborn Show" the other night and he actually said that he thought this film was "the best movie he'd ever been in", which I thought said a lot about the man's career.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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