Cold Creek ManorOverview -
COLD CREEK MANOR is a heart-pounding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat in tension-filled suspense. Wanting to escape city life for the saner, safer countryside, New Yorkers Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid), his wife Leah (1995 Golden Globe winner Sharon Stone, Best Actress, CASINO), and their two children move into a dilapidated old mansion still filled with the possessions of the previous family. Turning it into their dream house soon becomes a living nightmare when the previous owner (Stephen Dorff) shows up, and a series of terrifying incidents lead them on a spine-tingling search for clues to the estate's dark and lurid past.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Think of the worst crazed-maniac horror movie you've ever seen. Chances are you're thinking of 'Cold Creek Manor.' If you're not, you obviously haven't seen this train wreck yet. People that take in horror movies by the dozens are usually resigned to the fact that most horror movies are riddled with clichés. What they're looking for are original scares and a few terrifying thrills thrown in for good measure. 'Cold Creek Manor' can't even manage one capable scare, let alone any terrifying thrills. What it does produce is a cringe-worthy horror movie with more unintentionally funny scenes than anyone should care to count.
The movie starts out unoriginally enough as the Tilson family moves out to a dilapidated fixer-upper of a house in upstate New York. Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid) has finally had it with the big city life after his son is almost killed by a car on a busy New York City street. Leah (Sharon Stone) reluctantly leaves behind her lucrative business job and moves out to the country with her family. The Tilson's have two children; Kristen (Kristen Stewart) and Jamie (Jesse Tilson).
We've seen this before right? Big city family moves into a small town with more secrets than a teenage girl's diary. Everyone is hiding something and the Tilsons soon learn that the neighborhood they moved into may not be as friendly as it once seemed. Most of that fear is brought on by one Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff). He visits the Tilsons who have ended up buying his childhood home out from under him as the bank had to foreclose. Dale harbors deep resentment, but strategically hides it, hoping to be hired on as a handyman around the property.
Of course the big house in the middle of nowhere has a nefarious past of its own, they all do right? Only in this movie ghosts and ghouls aren't waiting around every corner; instead it's Dorff's strained scary face and a load of snakes. Yes, I said snakes. In one "scary" scene loads of snakes have found their way into the Tilson household and the Tilsons run around the house shrieking as the soundtrack replicates the noises of a three year-old pounding away on a piano. That scene is just as awful as it sounds.
Dale will do anything to get the Tilsons to leave, and like all great horror movie protagonists Cooper decides staying and finding out what really happened at the house is much more important than, you know, leaving while he's still alive.
Most of 'Cold Creek Manor's storytelling relies on the fact that the town's seemingly only police officer Sheriff Ferguson (Dana Eskelson) is completely inept at her job. We're routinely given the excuse that all the evidence Cooper has on Dale is circumstantial, but much of what Cooper finds would warrant an extensive search of his property by the proper authorities. Instead the Tilsons are herded into one horror movie trope after another. They're always alone and they never use common sense. Two perfect ingredients for people just waiting to die in a horror movie.
I keep calling this a horror movie because technically that's the genre it falls into. Although describing 'Cold Creek Manor' as horror is like describing the 'Chipmunk' movies as comedy. There's nothing horrific or scary about this movie. The "thrilling" scenes usually end up as laughable farces as the cast darts around the set screaming like high school kids visiting a lame haunted house. In fact the only thing scary about this movie is how anyone in their right mind thought it was scary at all.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Cold Creek Manor' is a Touchstone/Disney release. It comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase and is pressed onto a 50GB Blu-ray Disc. It's a region free release.
There's nothing overly impressive about this catalogue title's 1080p presentation. It's obvious that not a whole lot of work went into it and given Disney's usually high standards this seems to come across as a bit of a disappointment, although it's hard to blame them for not spending a whole lot of time meticulously restoring this for HD.
What I noticed right off was skin tones were unnatural from the beginning. They ran the gamut of rosy pink to sickly pale. There was never really a time where I felt that the skin tones presented here accurately reflected the natural look of flesh. Sharon Stone's looks so pale during the movie you think she's going to run into the bathroom and throw up at any moment. Grain is heavy and does cause an overall softness to the picture. Facial details are somewhat obscured. Pores aren't really noticeable and neither is fine hair.
Crushing is obvious throughout the movie. Shadows routinely hinder detail in low-light scenes. Depth is sorely undercut whenever we're faced with an abundance of the movie's flat blackness. Blacks really never approach the level of inkiness we've come to expect on our Blu-rays. Contrast is middling at best causing the overall detail and depth of any scene to suffer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does provide much more of a punch than the video presentation did. I won't hold the movie's annoying musical score against its overall rating, but just know that whenever a tense scene comes up the music in the movie becomes some of the worst original music ever produced for a movie.
Dialogue is clearly delivered through the center speaker. The front speakers do a nice job with directionality by providing clear dialogue whenever someone is speaking or yelling out of frame. Rear speakers harbor much of the ambient sound of the Tilsons' new country home. The sub comes alive whenever we're supposed to think whatever's happening on screen is scary. It isn't an audio mix that will blow you away, but it's solid throughout.
- Audio Commentary — Director Mike Figgis offers a commentary here that's full of filming notes. What it was like working with these actors and what it was like shooting the movie in Canada, among other things. Figgis is congenial enough, but one has to ask, why would you subject yourself to this movie again?
- Cooper’s Documentary (SD, 7 min.) — Figgis, Quaid, Stone and writer Richard Jefferies provide interviews while we see behind-the-scenes clips. The footage for Cooper's documentary about the Massie's and their house is discussed here.
- Rules of the Genre (SD, 8 min.) — What's hilarious about this featurette is that Figgis speaks about the rules of a horror movie and how he felt he had to follow them. What he's really trying to say is, "We know this movie has a ton of inane clichés, but hey, they all do right?"
- Alternate Ending (SD, 4 min.) — It only serves to provide us with the realization that this ending would've made the movie even more cumbersome than it already was.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 8 min.) — Figgis gives a quick introduction to the six deleted scenes here. All of these clips are deleted for a reason as they didn't really add anything to the movie. The clips include among other things, a scene where Leah and Dale flirt and a few words from the guys who come to the house to capture the mysterious snakes.
'Cold Creek Manor' is a giant waste of time. There are far better thrillers out there. You don't need to be wasting time with Figgis' deeply inept tale of a big city family in peril. There isn't one scary or thrilling moment in this movie. Most of those moments turn out to produce unintentional laughter. I see no reason why anyone should think about picking this one up. Just leave it on the store shelf and move along.
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