Review: “Cold Creek Manor”

After wallowing in the edgy but hard to notice realm of independent film for a few years, “Leaving Las Vegas” Director Mike Figgis returns to mainstream. One can understand the director’s desire with ‘Cold Creek’ – to not only have a widely seen piece of work again, but to create an effective Hitchcockian drama thriller with a modern audience using simple setup and some old formulaic elements. Sometimes this proves a rousing success (eg. “Dead Calm”), sometimes a moderately enjoyable time passer (eg. “Double Jeopardy”). In this case its a dull failure.

This comes as a surprise really. After all Quaid, Stone & Dorff deliver decent work and it does place more emphasis on fleshing out its characters than many thrillers of this type, yet somehow its quite flat with never any real suspense at all even though it tries hard quite often. There’s no mystery element as you know right off the bat who the ‘bad guy’ is, there’s a LOT of logic leaps in regards to the way it sets up its story, and overall that story is a beast well-trodden in far more convincing ways than this.

There’s plot holes you could drive a truck through – how can a family afford a manor like this, how come the bad guy isn’t locked up despite committing assaults and criminal acts in front of countless witnesses, when an animal winds up dead in a pool how come the daughter immediately suspects her dad over the shady building contractor – the list goes on and on.

Weak scripts can be overcome but Figgis directing is surprisingly lacklustre, never sparking any real life to his scenes and trying to be edgy with the odd burst of creepy grainy visuals in dark rain-soaked nights and a sudden and very silly snake attack scene.

The choppy script combined with the way all the cards are revealed by the end of the first act leaves much of the last hour of ‘Manor’ wandering around with practically nothing to do. Quaid stares at some nude photos, Dorff shows off his toned hairy pecs, the kids get upset, the sheriff does nothing, Juliette Lewis does a bitchy trailer trash routine and Sharon Stone looks flustered. A suspense movie without a modicum of suspense, thus one wonders what was the point.