Cold Creek Manor is, basically, a second-rate Pacific Heights in a rural setting. Misleadingly advertised during its theatrical release as a scary, possibly haunted house thriller, Cold Creek Manor disappoints on many levels -- especially for us hopeful horror fans. Had I known that Mike Figgis, one of my least favorite directors, had done this movie before I watched it I might have had lower expectations. As it was, I was pretty darn disappointed.
The hackneyed screenplay, obviously written by rote by Richard Jeffries, very slowly tells the story of a documentary filmmaker (Dennis Quaid) who moves his wife (Sharon Stone) and two cute kids (Panic Room's Kristen Stewart, and Ryan Wilson) into a run-down country mansion once owned by the family of an ex-con (Blade's Stephen Dorff). You guessed it: Mr. Convict man isn't the least bit happy about the new folks moving in, and he takes measures to see that they aren't happy living there either. Far from being the spine-tingling thriller advertised, Cold Creek Manor is nothing better than a miserable melodrama that's more on par with a USA channel MOW than a big screen release.
Cold Creek Manor's only saving grace is its "not so bad" acting performances. Dorff doesn't dissolve into parody, while Christopher Plummer, who plays his bedridden father, makes the most of his brief screen-time. Juliette Lewis plays her trademark slinky hick (ala Natural Born Killers, Kalifornia, and... um, just about every other movie she's ever been in) with aplomb, and Stone and Quaid are believable enough as a witless, terrorized couple.
Apparently as an homage to the few fans of this box office disaster, the video folks piled on the additional release material. There's over-the-movie commentary from Figgis (stilted and dry), and a hilarious "Rules of the Genre" featurette. I don't think the featurette was <i>supposed</i> to be funny, but it gave me the best laugh I've had all week: In it, Figgis outlines the rules of the thriller genre -- rules which he broke every time in his own cinematic Sleep-Eze. "Cooper's Documentary" was not at all what I was hoping for (a mockumentary, something along the lines of what was done on the Darkness Falls DVD, would have been fun), and the deleted scenes were pretty standard fare. The alternate ending was interesting, but I am really glad they didn't use that one in the final product.
In short, Cold Creek Manor left me cold.
Review by Staci Layne Wilson for Horror.com