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The cast of Cold Creek Manor debate
"jumping" after realizing what a horrible
movie they've agreed to star in. 
Picture © Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. All
rights reserved."

Cold Creek Manor
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Do you remember those special horror movies that stuck with you for weeks after you attended them?  Rosemary's Baby, The Haunting (1963), The Exorcist, Freaks, Carnival of Souls, The Old Dark House (1932), Night of the Living Dead (1968) and so many others lingered with the audience long after they left the auditorium.  You couldn't help but take an unearthly feeling of unpleasantness home from the theater with you. 

Pedestrian horror Director Mike Figgis, who showed promise with his film Leaving Las Vegas, has apparently decided that it is his "calling" to bring back old-fashioned lingering suspense and trepidation.  Unfortunately, the director falls flat on his face, and the only thing that lingers with you afterward is the feeling that a group of monkeys with a bunch of typewriters and a few cameras could have developed something better.  Figgis has taken a stock screenplay written by the entirely inept Richard Jefferies, and turned it into something so abysmally horrid that to call it "banal" would be much too much of a compliment.

Cold Creek Manor is, quite easily, the least hair-raising "horror" film to hit the market.  It doesn't scare.  It doesn't titillate.  The character "development" is contrived and laughable.  The acting ranges from the level of an After School Special to a made for video slasher. 

As I've said numerous times in my reviews, I'm a "horror slut."  But this film isn't "horror."  This film is horrible.  This is the kind of movie that a horror "slut" would reject, even if offered a handful of grapes and more money than he or she could earn in a month's time.  I can honestly say that, if I had known how truly awful this film actually was, before seeing it; I would have done anything I could to avoid wasting my time with the picture.  Even a root canal would have been less painful. 

At the screening I attended, the audience impatiently sat (I haven't seen buttocks shifting this much since watching the line of folks in front of me at the gym, using the numerous stair-climbers) through an hour and 45 minutes of far-fetched and ludicrous crap, thinking that their suffering would be rewarded with some sort of twist ending along the lines of The Sixth Sense.  The smarter members of the audience (and the ones not obligated to stay, so they could write a review) left knowing that a DQ twist cone would be too complex for the creative void being projected in front of them.  When the picture was finally over, I turned to my girlfriend and factiously said, "that was the scariest movie ever."  She looked at me with a pained stare.  Taking the bull by the horns, she admitted that she had "never seen a 'horror' film as horrible as [Cold Creek Manor]."

After a hellish 105 minutes of watching clichéd dialogue and a purported "mystery" (although the "bad guy" is obviously the "bad guy" from the start), we receive an ending that is somehow meant to be suspenseful.  Were the "creative" forces behind the film stoned? 

It disgusts me that millions of dollars would be poured into a wreck such as Cold Creek Manor.  I realize the corporate backers behind the thing wouldn't know art if the Sistine Chapel came up and bit them on the ass, but don't they know a paltry film from a profitable one? 

And what set of excuses can the creative minds and overpaid actors involved in the film blanket themselves with?  By the time the film's creators remember that this is supposed to be a horror flick, rather than an exercise in tedium, the audience is far too bored to care.  But Stephen Dorff, as Dale Massie, does his all to convince the audience that this lackluster production is something more than lousy. 

Boy, does he ever fail.

Dorff's over-the-top performance as the vengeful madman makes Gene Simmons' role as Dr. Charles Luther in Runaway look like Academy Award winning material.  Unless you think watching a male model spitting out some poorly written one-liners sounds like your idea of a terrifying time, this definitely isn't a climax worth waiting for.  At least Dorff appears to sweat baby oil.  He's lubed up like Rambo throughout much of the picture.  This provides for some comic relief, and any relief you receive during this unbearable excuse for entertainment is more than welcome. 

There is nothing redeemable in this film.  Juliette Lewis's character of Ruby was the  most captivating thing about the flick, but her character was next to pointless and a sad reminder that one of our greatest actresses (did you see her work in Natural Born Killers and/or What's Eating Gilbert Grape?) has been relegated to vomit such as Cold Creek Manor.  Lewis going through the motions, playing the same white trash character she's been typecast into, only adds another element of despondency to an already hopelessly despondent picture.

Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid are simply acting by the numbers.  I cannot believe Stone would come out of her acting hiatus to star in this.  Dennis Quaid, well, has he ever been anything more than entirely boring?  And why is it that his family believes the nutty Stephen Dorff character over Quaid's decent daddy?  This screenplay is as sloppy as they come. 

If you really want to blame one individual for the mess that is Cold Creek Manor, it's Mike Figgis.  The guy produced the film and even "composed" its original score.  Never in a movie has a soundtrack been this grating.  Imagine the theme for Halloween John Carpenter came up with; now imagine if that theme was unbearable to listen to and played so loud that it drowned out everything else around it.  If you can do that, you have an idea of the "music" Figgis wrote for his film.  After directing the pedestrian Cold Creek Manor, Mike Figgis may decide that Leaving Las Vegas wouldn't be nearly as productive as his Leaving Show Business.

On a scale of 1-10?


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Coming soon -- Reviews of The Rundown, Under the Tuscan Sun and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

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Text ©(Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].