movie really be considered successful if it does the exact opposite of what
it intends to do? In most cases, I think not. If you find yourself walking
into a screening of Cold Creek Manor, I would hope that you’re not
looking for a horror movie. Unlike the recent campy slashers Freddy vs.
Jason, Cabin Fever, and Wrong Turn, the makers behind
Cold Creek Manor actually believe that they’ve crafted a terrifying
tale. Sadly it’s a laughable, conventional, clichéd, worthless mess of ideas
that comes to an air-headed conclusion, after slowly plodding along for an
hour and fifty-minutes of sheer nothingness. It is entertainingly likeable,
though—which says something—even if that something is very, very close to
nothing at all.
Marketed as some sort of supernatural thriller,
Cold Creek Manor may draw in a broad range of audiences, but most
viewers won’t be satisfied by its mediocre execution. What could’ve been an
insanely creepy and intriguing motion picture turns out to be a lackluster
exercise in creating suspense. Cold Creek Manor has a great premise
and some compelling ideas, but they are never developed in the right way.
The strange and predictable plot is the driest aspect of the entire film.
Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid), his wife Leah
(Sharon Stone), and their two children (Kirsten Stewart and Ryan Wilson) are
a New York City family, often distressed by living in such a crowded and
fast-paced place. An independent documentarian, Cooper could easily work
from another location, and Leah could afford to quit her job as a business
woman, as well. Before long, and as expected, the Tilson’s find themselves
moving away from the city and into the country, to an inexpensive giant, old
estate with 1,200 acres of property to go along with it.
The place hasn’t been inhabited for awhile and all
the contents have been left in it, as the previous owner had been serving a
three-year jail-term. Certain parts of it are rundown and in desperate need
of fixing up. As fate would have it, one day, that same man (Stephen Dorff)
who owned the house prior to the Tilson’s, invites himself inside and asks
for a maintenance job. Hesitantly, Cooper accepts his offer. As days pass,
the man, named Dale Massey, tells Cooper about his past. Cooper learns about
Dale’s old wife and children, who supposedly took off one day, and he never
saw them again. Later in the movie, mysteries emerge. What really
happened to Dale’s former family? What happened in the Tilson’s house,
before they owned it? What are they getting themselves into?
Up until this point, everything is jolly. We are
engaged and captivated by Cold Creek Manor, and it works. But right
when my hopes for a fabulous climax and a haunting conclusion skyrocketed,
due to what I had seen so far, the movie began to plummet. And I don’t just
mean it reaches a decline in likeability, I mean it falls into a bottomless
pit. Between this flick and the disappointing (but superior) Matchstick
Men, I’m convinced that most filmmakers and screenwriters these days
aren’t capable of creating decent endings. The final act of Cold Creek
Manor, albeit corny, ironic, and enjoyable, contains, roughly, the most
obvious thirty-five minutes in the entire history of cinema.
There is no single person we can blame for this.
Certain people’s work is successful at times, and gut-bustlingly
nonsensical, at others. The two features of Cold Creek Manor that are
the most distasteful are the production, by Annie Stewart, Mike Figgis, and
Richard Jefferies and the score, by Figgis, as well. He is also the
director, but his work in that department is actually good, and one of the
only admirable technical aspects of the film.
Until Cold Creek Manor makes a run on cable
TV, do yourself a favor and forget about seeing it. There are definitely
some fun segments in it, but as a whole, it’s nothing short of disastrous.
One day, I hope Hollywood will leave all that’s conventional behind, and
incorporate more originality into mainstream cinema. Sadly, looking foreward
at the rest of this year’s releases, it’s hard to conclude that that day
will come anytime soon. Cold Creek Manor is just another piece of
trash that should’ve been made for TV, clogging up the screens of
multiplexes. Until I see it playing on a network channel during the daytime
(where it should be), I will not rest. As for now—I have one thing to
say—make it stop, please! Oh god, just make it stop.
-Danny, Bucket Reviews