Cold Creek Manor

Although it's a pretty mean thing to say, sometimes people get what they deserve, especially if they are the character in Cold Creek Manor. This movie, a standard thriller populated with really stupid people, seems an odd choice for director Mike Figgis, who usually deals with more substantial material (often to varying degrees of success). The characters in the film are so dumb that it takes the viewer out of the film, forcing them to ponder how two idiots got so successful. The gist of the film is that Cooper and Leah Tilson hire ex-convict Dale Massie to fix up the house he believes was stolen from him. Yeah, that's a great situation to be in.

Cooper (Dennis Quaid, Far From Heaven, The Rookie) and Leah (Sharon Stone, Beautiful Joe, Simpatico) decide that living in Manhattan is too dangerous for their young children. They find a sprawling piece of property for sale at an unbelievable price, Cold Creek Manor. Together with their children Kristen (Kristen Stewart, Panic Room, The Safety of Objects) and Jesse (Ryan Wilson), they fall in love with the house and move in. They need to do a lot of work, since it was untended for some years. To make things worse, Cooper and Leah are going through a tough time in their marriage. The new setting may help them out. Cooper is a documentarian, and the house is full of junk, so he decides to research its past occupants, perhaps for a documentary.

All of a sudden, Cooper finds Dale (Stephen Dorff, feardotcom, Deuce's Wild) in his house. Instead of telling him to get the hell out of there, Cooper hires Dale to help fix up the place. Never mind that an ex-convict is trespassing, or that he just looks like the bad guy. Dale also has a habit of wearing dirty clothes, sweating, and taking his shirt off. Soon, very odd things begin to happen to the Tilsons. More specifically, to their house. A pet horse ends up dead in the pool, snakes appear everywhere, and it takes them way to long to put two and two together. Figgis (Timecode, Hotel) is better than this, and hopefully, screenwriter Richard Jeffries (Man of the House, The Vagrant) is too. Yet, it should be noted that Jeffries was an executive producer, which is not a good sign.

Juliette Lewis (Old School, Enough) and Christopher Plummer (Nicholas Nickleby, Ararat) show up, as Dale's trailer trash girl friend and crazy dad, respectively. Every character here is a joke. Figgis is able to make some tension, mostly in the beginning of Cold Creek Manor. This is before the viewer recognizes the complete and total stupidity behind Leah and Cooper. First, it seems somewhat plausible that Dale could pull the wool over their eyes. By the time the horse ends up in the pool, all bets are off. Jeffries portrays the Tilsons as smart people; they act anything but. Stone and Quaid are good actors, but these roles are anything but.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 58 minutes, Rated R for violence, language, and some sexuality.

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