Left Me Cold
Film review by: Witney Seibold
As a critic, I attempt to maintain some professionalism in my work. I try to be objective, informative, and use adjectives beyond “good” and “bad.” I walk into a film willing to give it a chance, and trust the filmmakers that they tried to make the best piece they could. That said, I will say this of Mike Figgis’ new film “Cold Creek Manor:” what a piece of crap. Mike Figgis, who has made a number of rather brilliant films in his day (“The Loss of Sexual Innocence” is a penetrating meditation. I am a fan of the maligned “Time Code”), seems to have lost touch with the art with “Cold Creek Manor.”
It is a “thriller” of sorts. A family (Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, and two kids), after too much urban stress, move out to a mansion in the country. When the wife-beater-wearing Stephen Dorff turns up unannounced in their living room (and when Stephen Dorff unexpectedly appears in your movie, it’s always a bad sign), the terror begins. He starts out nice enough, offering to do odd job around the house, but is soon dropping snakes in the laundry, and throwing the dead pet horse into the pool. Well, the film would have us believe that it MAY not be Stephen Dorff, but there are no other suspects, you see. Evidently, he’s angry that this new family has moved into the house where he and his kin were previously squatting.
Thrillers usually work well when there is some ambiguity; when the wicked character could be anyone. “Cold Creek Manor” has one (1) suspect in the matter. With a “villain” dynamic, it loses all of its tension. Thus, we spend most of Cold Creek Manor waiting for the hero to find out just exactly what crime the villain committed (although it seems kind of irrelevant), in order to justify the trite rain-soaked rooftop finale. No points for guessing one of them goes crashing through a stained-glass ceiling.
What could have had made this film work? I’m having trouble with that one. The characters? Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone are given nothing to work with. Their characters are naïve city-slickers, yes, but the ineptitude they show in dealing with people was painful to watch. The story perhaps? Well that’s obvious. Maybe the best way would be not to have made it.