Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cold Creek Manor (2003) Film Review
Cold Creek Manor
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Spooky house, spooky title, spooky neighbours.
No, this isn't The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3. In fact, it isn't a genre movie at all, which is a shame, because that's what you're expecting.
When Ang Lee made The Hulk, it was a film about prejudice and the fear of abnormality, rather than an effects fest, which upset comicbook aficionados. Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) approaches this story of smart city folk moving to the country, without understanding that he is walking in the shadow of demons.
Cooper (Dennis Quaid) is a documentary filmmaker and Leah (Sharon Stone) a high-flying businesswoman. They have two children, bolshy teenager Kristen (Kristen Stewart) and bumptious 12-year-old Jesse (Ryan Wilson). They live in New York, where the stress and potential danger for the kids becomes too much. On a whim, they decide - or rather, Cooper does - to hit the highway and find a whacking great pile in the junglelands of upstate Hicks County.
Cold Creek Manor is delapidated. The grounds are overgrown, the pool empty. They buy it, with more than 1000 acres, and set about restoring the place. Dale (Stephen Dorff) used to live here, when his daddy had the farm. He's just out of prison for a hit-and-run offence and offers to help, since this was his home and he has contacts with the local tradesmen.
The scene is set and already it's taken too long. Dale has dark secrets and a tarty girlfriend (Juliette Lewis), who works as a waitress at the diner. Cooper and Leah behave like ignorant townies, freaking out at the sight of snakes, bribing Kristen with a pony, suspecting everyone, especially Dale, of having it in for them.
The film is slack, when it should be taut. Figgis has no feel for the rhythm of terror. Dorff takes charge, because there's no one to stop him, but he's not crazy enough to interrupt your sleep. Quaid has a single expression - the look of a man who has lost the beach house in a poker game - and Stone is completely out of it, wearing chic casuals, even when thrown down a well, and obviously wishing she was back in the city. Lewis does trailer park sexy, like she's never lost her insecurity.
The story unfolds, shock by shock, cushioned by a sense of unreality.Reviewed on: 05 Feb 2004