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•• ComingSoon, Mirko Parlevliet: Rating 4/10
This supposed suspense thriller is a waste of talent, the studio's money and moviegoers money as well. Playing more like a TV movie of the week, not much is offered here. Touchstone has done a wonderful job of marketing the movie, however, with trailers and TV spots that make this look like an edge-of-your-seat kinda thriller. Unfortunately that's not the case.
Let's start with what "Cold Creek Manor" is missing. If you thought there were any supernatural elements to the movie (the trailer makes it seems so), there's none. If you thought there were twists and suprises in the story, nope, nothing. When you think you'll get an explanation as to why Dale Massie is wanting the house back and kill the current owners, you don't.
Mike Figgis directed, composed the music for, and produced "Cold Creek Manor". The talent he used to create such a masterpiece as "Leaving Las Vegas" is noticeably absent this time around. Perhaps it was the script he co-wrote with Richard Jefferies that made the film so uneventful. It takes a long time for anyhing really to get going. Regarding the music, the piano pieces that tried to evoke suspense were laughable at best.
The only points go to the acting, which in itself is not too bad. I'm actually surprised the cast signed onto this script. Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone are able to bring good chemistry to the screen and you're able to care for them. Stephen Dorff does a good job with what he gets to play with, though you never really understand what's going through his character's head. Panic Room star Kristen Stewart stands out as probably the best of the bunch in the film. Juliette Lewis plays her usual self, while Christopher Plummer is unrecognizable as Mr. Massie.
I really wanted to like "Cold Creek Manor" because of the actors involved, but in the end it's just another movie of the week.
•• Hollywood.com, Kit Bowen: Ultimately what could potentially been a real frightfest simply denigrates into another typical good guy-bad guy showdown.
Yet the only genuine standout worth mentioning is Kristen Stewart who did such a great job as Jodie Foster's daughter in Panic Room. Stewart plays Tilson's sullen teenage daughter Kristen able to convey to Dale with just a scowl that she knows he's trouble. The young actress could be one to look out for.
•• View London, Matthew Turner: Rating 2/5
Cold Creek Manor is the sort of thriller where the supposedly scary bits are either so overdone or just so plain stupid that they’re laughable. For example, at one point, the Tilsons are attacked in the house by lots of snakes – they flee upstairs to the roof and yet, as they try to close the door behind them, a snake is in the way. So was the snake already there (in which case each one of them stepped over it without noticing) or did it run up the stairs after them? Similarly, the family horse meets a particularly gruesome fate and it’s hard to imagine one man dragging the horse’s corpse around and bunging it in the swimming pool.
Apart from Dorff’s giddy theatrics, the other performances aren’t bad. It’s a treat to see Sharon Stone on the big screen again, for one thing – let’s hope she lands some other big roles soon. Quaid is as reliable as ever and there are a couple of well-acted scenes between the two leads where you wish Figgis had given up on the thriller element and instead made a film about their disintegrating marriage.
There’s also good support from Kristen Stewart (from Panic Room), Dana Eskelson (as the local cop) and Juliette Lewis as Dorff’s slutty girlfriend.
In short, Cold Creek Manor is a pretty dismal, entirely predictable thriller but it has a couple of good performances and affords a few laughs along the way. Probably best to wait for the video, though.
•• Variety, Todd McCarthy: “Cold Creek Manor” is a woefully predictable imperiled-yuppie-family-under-siege suspenser that hardly seems worth the attention of its relatively high-profile participants. Taking a break from his multiple-perspective digicam experiments, helmer Mike Figgis displays at best a half-hearted interest in delivering the commercial genre goods, while Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone fish in vain to find any angles to play in their dimension-free characters. Disney will have to hope the campaign’s haunted-house hook will lure fright-chasing auds on opening weekend, because word of mouth will trigger a quick B.O. collapse in subsequent stanzas.
Heavy use of wide-angle lenses reminds of too many cheap horror films and isn’t very flattering of the thesps. Figgis’ score hits the menacing notes right on the head, to no avail in the thrill department.
•• Empire, Danny Graydon: Rating 2/5
This should be titled Mike Figgis Pays The Bills. Having broken impressive new ground in digital video cinema (Timecode), Figgis returns to studio work with this disappointingly sub-par genre effort, about a family that move into a possibly haunted house that may or may not be suffering from sinister former tenant syndrome.
Figgis gracefully sets up an enjoyably forbidding atmosphere as documentarian Quaid's ongoing discoveries increase the tensions, but the simply not-scary-enough Dorff fails to build on this – and he's certainly not aided by Figgis' unsubtle score. Following a genuinely unnerving (but wholly illogical) set-piece involving snakes, the film falls into a miasma of genre clichés from which it never re-emerges.
Given that it has Mike Figgis calling the shots, it's remarkable just how conventional Cold Creek Manor looks as well as plays. There's none of his usual visual invention, and the heard-it-all-before story turns on tired twists and overplays the jumps.
•• CineScene, Mark Sells: Cold Creek Manor is one of those films that has great potential, but disappoints when all the dust settles. Instead of presenting us with a refreshing take on the thriller genre, it goes for the contrived, answering complex questions with simple, unsatisfying solutions. After building a story full of suspense and tension, the film wraps things up in ridiculous fashion. At one point Dale says, “A house is just a shell, right? You live in it for a while and then things change.” This film is one of those shells, all empty inside.