A Film Review By The Mike
|Rating: Rated R for Violence, Language and Nudity
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff
Directed By: Mike Figgis
It’s become very easy for Hollywood to churn out mediocre films, as evidenced by the last few years of cinema. All it takes is a simple unoriginal plot, a cast of decent actors, and a director that once was highly regarded in the field. This formula has churned out enough films over the last decade to make our heads spin. This makes it very unsettling when a film like Cold Creek Manor shows up and manages to never approach even mediocrity. I’m not saying that mediocrity is a good thing (Although most that know me believe that I think so), but I begged for any semblance of it for two hours tonight while watching Cold Creek Manor.
There are so many things wrong with Cold Creek Manor that I’m betting it will be very hard for me to fit them all into this review. For starters, the plot is so unoriginal and uninspired that it inspires snores. A family moves into a house and is terrorized by a former owner. I know I’ve seen at least one film that has the exact same plot, and I can name dozens with premises that are close enough for me to call this a rip-off of them. Not only is it unoriginal, but it’s so lazily executed that it hurts.
The most telling scene in the film comes about 40 minutes into the carnage, where the main characters’ children are playing hide and seek. The young boy starts counting down from 100, but soon starts skipping numbers. At first he skips one number at a time, then two, then five and so on. Ironically, the film is edited in the same manner. I got a strange feeling in several occasions that either A) the director’s first cut was so long that he cut the beginning out of most of his scenes, hoping that we would understand what happened in the time that was not covered on screen; or B) the director had just purchased a “Jump-to-Conclusions” Mat and wanted to test it out while putting his film together.
If you’re going to have a weak story, you should at least take the time to tell it. Instead, Director Mike Figgis’ film jumps abruptly from plot point to plot point, hoping that we will understand the disjointedness. There’s only one scene that he sticks with for more than three minutes, a horrible mid-film bar scene that had me praying for the abruptness of the rest of the film. Unfortunately, this excruciating scene went on for at least 10 minutes, probably in an attempt to make up for the choppiness of every other scene preceding it. As if this wasn’t enough, the plot and direction jumps into autopilot down the film’s final stretch, stringing together underdone scenes that we’ve seen many times before hoping that it will form a climax.
The script is also poor, making a decent cast useless. Dennis Quaid appears beaten as our hero, while Sharon Stone goes through the painful motions as his wife. Stephen Dorff attempts to ham it up as the former owner/creep, but it’s such a cliché role that we don’t care. The same can be said for Juliette Lewis, who pulls off her white-trash role with unsurprising ease. We also get a couple of scenes from the wonderful Christopher Plummer in an almost unrecognizable state (If I were in this movie I wouldn’t want anyone to recognize me either!), but he’s relegated to shouting and looking senile.
The closest I came to finding something enjoyable in the film was when the family first looked at the titular property. At first I thought it illogical that the family would fall head over heels for a beaten up house that would require months of hard labor to restore and constant lawn care. But then I remembered that this exact same thing happened to my own family within the last decade. I quickly realized that this confirmed it as illogical.
When all is said and done, there are too many holes in the story and too little effort put into the filmmaking process to even consider Cold Creek Manor as a worthwhile film. Take care to avoid this mess of pitiful cinema, as it could inspire nightmares for weeks. It’s scary. It’s not scary in plot or execution. It’s scary in the fact that people might pay money to see it when there are scarier and more riveting thrillers showing on the Disney Channel.