After their son is almost killed in a car accident, documentary film maker Cooper (Dennis Quaid) and his high-flying wife Leah (Sharon Stone) leave the big city in search of the quiet life. They move to the country to Cold Creek Manor, a grand old house in the sticks. However, they soon begin to realise that the country life isn’t quite as reserved as they’d imagined, when they realise that the house’s previous owner, Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff) isn’t quite ready to let go of the property. Soon enough Cooper begins to unravel the dark secrets hidden inside the house and the deeper he digs, the more danger he puts himself, his wife, his son Jesse (Ryan Wilson) and teenage daughter Kristen (Kristen Stewart) in. The film also stars the incredible Juliette Lewis as Ruby, Dale’s ‘girlfriend’.
Setting a movie in an old country house is always tricky. There are so many haunted house movies all with very similar plots and very few truly original ideas between them. Sadly, Cold Creek Manor doesn’t manage to provide us with anything that we haven’t seen before or even deliver us with something old that is done extremely well/with a new twist.
Regardless of whether the film is original or not (I’ve just as easily enjoyed an entirely clichéd film as I have a truly ‘new’ one) the real problem here is that director Mike Figgis spends an extraordinary amount of time trying to build up tension, which he does well, but the the pay off just isn’t there and more often than not we are let down. However, that’s not to say the film doesn’t have its moments and whilst I wasn’t hiding under my duvet, on more than just a few occasions my chest felt tight with anticipation. The snake scene was particularly gripping and this is worth watching for that alone.
Cold Creek Manor is a strange, strange brew of good, bad, exciting and underwhelming, and it leaves the audience feeling somewhat confused and out of sorts. Having said that, despite the mishaps it is a film worth watching but mostly for its performances (particularly Dorff) and cinematic style. All in all, I think Cold Creek Manor would have benefitted greatly if it had had an original idea behind it or at least a really good ending that would make the buildup throughout worth the 2 hour wait. If you enter this film with a ‘serious’ head, you will be heavily disappointed, but it’s the perfect kind of movie to have on whilst you’re catching up with a group of friends.