Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone lead a cast of cardboard characters who never should have left the city.
By STEVE PERSALL
Published September 18, 2003
[Photo: Buena Vista]
Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone play a couple introducing their children, Ryan Wilson and Kristen Stewart, to country life in Cold Creek Manor.
The only thing creakier than the house called Cold Creek Manor is the screenplay for the movie of the same name. This alleged thriller from writer Richard Jefferies - whose only gig in the last eight years is the video game Tron 2.0 - lacks any sense or source of suspense, plodding through a Cape Fear-style scenario with such formulaic shorthand that it finally doesn't matter who gets out alive.
Stop me if you've heard this one. A married couple (Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone) escape the urban jungle and retreat with their conveniently spunky children to a rundown mansion in the woods. Folks don't cotton to strangers around here. The town bully (Stephen Dorff, as sure a sign of a bad movie as any today) used to live at Cold Creek Manor. He offers to help renovate the place but his leers at the missus and tales of bashing 10,000 sheep to death with hammers definitely begs for another contractor's bid.
The first hour of director Mike Figgis' overlong movie pins ID buttons on everyone: Cooper Tilson (Quaid) is a documentary filmmaker because a camera will come in handy later. His wife, Leah (Stone), is a go-getter tempted by a promotion if she'll sleep with the boss, a point meaning nothing to the story except it gives her something to scream at her hubby when no other tension is being generated.
Why Stone chose this role for her comeback from a near-fatal brain disorder is the biggest mystery about Cold Creek Manor. This is a thankless role, underwritten and hardly inspired by the jeopardy routine Jefferies puts her through. Nice to see her healthy again, but this seems more like therapy, just to see if Stone can still handle the grind of making a movie.
Dorff gnashes the scenery whenever he's on screen as Dale Massie, goading Cooper into fights and treating his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) like dirt. The only person who can make him cower is his pappy, who knows Dale's obligatory dark secret. I did a double take checking the production notes later and learning the ham underneath those whiskers, sucking chocolate covered cherries and cackling about something nasty in the woodshed is Christopher Plummer, rounding out a neat trinity of premier actors slumming. Dorff and Lewis don't count.
Yet, all this bad acting and run-of-the-thrill dialogue might be entertaining if something would just happen besides a silly snake scare and a wan truck chase. The movie plays like an all-star episode of This Old House for the first hour, a telenovela for the next 30 minutes, then, finally, a hack boogeyman flick in the last reel. This isn't a movie, it's channel surfing.
Cold Creek Manor
Director: Mike Figgis
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Plummer