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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mike Figgis
Cast:
Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Wilson, Dana Eskelson, Christopher Plummer, Simon Reynolds, Kathleen Duborg, Paula Brancati
Writing Credits:
Richard Jefferies

Tagline:
Have you ever wondered what happened in your home before you lived there?

Synopsis:
Cold Creek Manor is the heart-pounding thriller that will keep you sitting 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 (Golden Globe winner Sharon Stone) and their two children move into a dilatpidated 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.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$8.190 million on 2035 screens.
Domestic Gross
$21.384 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 3/2/2004

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Mike Figgis
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes
• “Rules of the Genre” Featurette
• “Cooper’s Documentary”
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
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Cold Creek Manor (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 5, 2004)

After cinematic experiments like 2000’s Time Code, director Mike Figgis returns with a more conventional piece via 2003’s Cold Creek Manor. At the start, we meet the Tilson family. Father Cooper (Dennis Quaid) makes documentaries, which leaves him at home to care for teen daughter Kristen (Kristen Stewart) and younger son Jesse (Ryan Wilson) since he works out of the house. Mother Leah travels a lot for business and seems like an up and comer as well as the family’s primary breadwinner.

When Jesse almost gets run over by an aggressive driver, the family moves out of Manhattan and goes to upstate New York. They find a stately abode called Cold Creek Manor that they decide to purchase. The bank foreclosed on the property, and all of the prior residents’ stuff remains there. They go through it, and Cooper decides to research the history of this old place. Jesse also seems to become obsessed with the spooky writings of Grady, a kid about the same age who used to live there.

Before too long, however, one of the evicted folks reappears in the form of Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff). He just got out of jail and comes to visit the old home. We find out the Massies owned CCM for generations, and since he knows the place so well – and needs work – Dale offers to help fix up the joint for pay.

From there, the plot thickens. Gradually Dale comes to seem creepier and more intrusive, and weird things start to happen around the house. All of this inexorably leads toward a confrontation.

Manor is what they call a genre flick, and it firmly embraces all of the inherent clichés. In fact, without clichés, this movie wouldn’t exist. It offers virtually nothing other than the same old, same old, and fails to present any elements that allow it to stand out from the pack.

A lot of the problem stems from the pacing. The movie progresses at a crawl, and it takes forever to get anywhere. Once it does arrive at its destination, you feel somewhat cheated, as you can’t quite believe you waited all that time for such a minor payoff.

That’s because this sort of flick should present some surprises, but none occur during Manor. That seems like a particular concern since it appears to set up some possibly intriguing elements. During the second act, the movie concentrates a lot of emphasis on Jesse’s obsession with Grady, and these bits seem like they’ll take us somewhere intriguing. I thought a supernatural element might emerge, but instead, all of that work occurs just for one minor tie-in toward the end. The whole Jesse/Grady subplot feels unnecessary.

Director Figgis certainly fails to shoot the film in a way that makes it come to life. We get many of the stereotypical “something bad’s gonna happen” images with the usual cheap results. He milks the cheesy scares for all they’re worth but never produces anything genuinely frightening or alarming.

Ultimately, Cold Creek Manor provides nothing more than a bland and predictable thriller. It doesn’t present a single surprise or intriguing element, and it really seems like the kind of thing you’d see dumped on Cinemax were it not for the higher level of talent involved.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Cold Creek Manor appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, the movie looked good but not great.

In general, sharpness came across well. Occasionally some shots betrayed a little softness, but those instances popped up infrequently. The majority of the flick appeared nicely detailed and concise. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, but some light edge enhancement occurred at times. The movie lacked print defects, but it seemed grainier than I expected for a modern flick.

Colors appeared natural and distinctive. The movie occasionally favored slightly stylized tones, mostly to give it a creepy look, but the hues mainly were clean and rich. Black levels seemed acceptable. They were reasonably dense, though they appeared slightly inky at times. Shadow detail was also generally solid, though a few shots were somewhat thick. Some rather dark “day for night” shots looked the worst. As a whole, the movie presented an attractive image, with only a smattering of issues.

Even better, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Cold Creek Manor helped bring the material to life. The soundfield provided a surprisingly engaging piece. Music consistently demonstrated smooth stereo imaging, while the effects also popped up in the appropriate places. Scenes with movement blended together well, and the movie offered a very good sense of ambience. It also featured some creepy noises that mostly popped up in the surrounds and helped make the atmosphere more disquieting. The surrounds didn’t play an extremely active role, but they contributed to the sense of foreboding and worked well.

Audio quality always sounded solid. Speech appeared distinct and crisp, and I detected no issues with edginess or intelligibility. Music seemed bright and clear, as the score showed nice range and definition. Effects also fared well. They depicted the elements concisely and with fine dimensionality. Bass response seemed quite good; low-end was consistently tight and firm, and those pieces lacked any unnatural boominess. Ultimately, the audio of Manor served the movie well.

For the DVD’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Mike Figgis. He provides a running, screen-specific piece that offers intermittently useful material. To his credit, Figgis goes over a wide array of subjects. He touches on the script and changes between it and the final flick, various other deleted elements and editing choices, the cast and their work, the score, locations, and a mix of additional topics. The commentary starts off pretty well, but before too long, Figgis starts to focus too much on tedious areas that mainly involve back patting. He talks about how much he likes different elements and aspects of the film, and the track turns pretty dull after a while. Figgis gets into the creation of the flick well enough to make the commentary moderately productive, but it seems fairly average as a whole.

Next we get Cooper’s Documentary. In this seven-minute and 12-second piece, we see some movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and interview snippets with Figgis, actors Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone, and writer/executive producer Richard Jefferies. The show covers a little background for the character and the scenario and then goes through how they created the material that would end up in Cooper’s documentary about the Massies. Some of the shots from the set seem interesting, but not a lot of practical details pop up in this somewhat dull piece.

For an examination of the Rules of the Genre, we head to the next program. The seven-minute and 58-second featurette mixes more movie snippets with footage from the set and information from Figgis, Jefferies, Stone, Christopher Plummer, Dana Eskelson and Juliette Lewis. It goes through all of the rules that they felt they had to honor. This covers topics like “cut to the chase”, editing, the element of surprise, and pacing. It seems odd to hear a filmmaker as experimental as Figgis talk about inflexible rules, but at least this piece gives us an idea why he made so a bland and predictable flick. Much of the featurette just provides generic praise for the movie, though, so don’t expect a lot of insight.

The Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending section opens with a 39-second introduction from Figgis; he tells us some generic notes on unused footage. Then we can watch seven deleted scenes as well as the alternate ending; the pieces fill a total of 21 minutes and 35 seconds. These include Leah flirting with Dale, some shtick from the snake removers, tension between Cooper and Leah, her drive with the kids back to Manhattan, another confrontation between Cooper and Dale over a game of pool, two separate scenes of more fighting during the climax, and the alternate ending. The clip with the flirting might have worked, as it helped set up that element a little more clearly, but the other bits seemed superfluous and redundant. The pool game fared especially poorly, as it went on forever and felt mostly like an excuse for Quaid and Dorff to show off their skills. The alternate ending also appeared awfully long; though it included a couple of mildly interesting revelations, it would have made a draggy flick even more tedious.

We can check out the scenes with or without “select commentary” from Figgis. “Select commentary” means that he only discusses a few scenes. He doesn’t chat over the sequences; instead, he offers introductions to the snakes and pool game segments. He offers some perfunctory notes but not anything of real value. It doesn’t hurt to watch the deleted scenes with this feature activated, but you won’t miss much if you skip it.

The Sneak Peeks area offers promos for Hidalgo, Veronica Guerin, Alias, Tron 2.0 and The Haunted Mansion.

At no point does Cold Creek Manor attempt to break free from its genre-flick boundaries. Instead, the movie plods along in a very predictable manner and never manages to convey any spark or life that would make it stand out from the crowd. The DVD offers fairly average picture along with surprisingly strong sound and a fairly mediocre set of extras. Skip this bland and monotonous take on the thriller genre.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3636 Stars Number of Votes: 11
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