Cold Creek Manor DVD Review

Cover Art and Menu: 5/10
Bad cover art strikes again. Are you surprised? I’m a fan of Dennis Quaid, but Sharon Stone has never really done much for me. That could be because I’m female, or because I know the truth..SHE’S NOT THAT GREAT! Ok, Casino was the exception, other than that…but I’m going off topic here. The cover is kind of boring and it does have a hint of creepiness, but not enough to make it look cool.

The menus are pretty nifty I must say. They have made it look like a desktop, (not the virtual type) with a video editing pc, some photos, and other objects to give it that cluttered look. I wish they had used the menu art for the cover of the box, that would have worked for me. Overall, between the cover and the menu the graphic artists who put this DVD together didn’t make much effort to tie things together. I like DVD’s that make it an over all package with matching, or at least similar elements on both the cover and the menus..but I’m a picky old cow!

Extras & Features: 5/10

  • Deleted Scenes– You actually get several of these now-standard deleted scenes to mull over. There are a couple that really would have changed the whole pace and feel of the movie so it’s more obvious in this situation why a director might pull some scenes after seeing the film all stuck together. In fact, one scene totally changes the dynamic between the lead characters so you can see just how delicate a story can be at the hands of an editor and director in post production.
  • Rules Of The Genre Featurette – This is a pretty informative little extra that goes through the expectations and “rules” of the suspense genre. Figgis discusses what things you can and cannot fudge around with when making a genre film like Cold Creek Manor. There are certain things you have to remember when taking the leap into the suspense/thriller arena. A couple of the things is not to get ahead of the lead characters. That is just a fancy way to say that you don’t want your flick to be TOO predictable. In my case, almost every movie like this is predictable, so that’s a hard one to follow and still keep everyone on the edge of their seats. Another “rule” is to use the right music and in this movie I actually think they did a good job of that. Figgis says he wanted to reflect the kind of music that came with some of the original films in this genre from the 40’s and 50’s with the heavy avant-garde classical and kind of eerie pounding beats at just the right moments to increase the tension, and at times this movie needs as much help as it can get, more on that later.
  • Cooper’s Documentary –  I was hoping for a real documentary here, but instead it is just a brief overview about Quaid’s character’s filmmaking throughout the story and how it plays a part in the overall . It shows how Figgis filmed some of the personal dv camera footage himself on other locations. It also shows how Figgis devised a steering wheel gizmo to hold a hand held camera that makes the documentary footage and home videos have a style all their own. It’s interesting, but this extra is short and is not really what I expected.
  • Audio Commentary With Director Mike Figgis – Figgis is an indie kind of a guy, and with a classic like Leaving Las Vegas his track record shows he’s not afraid to go out on the edge when it comes to storytelling. It’s cool to listen to his thought process and you can hear the affection he has for the process of making a film. I appreciate a director like Figgis, even if I don’t particularly like this film, his perspective in the commentary is worth a listen.
  • Bonus Alternate Ending – You do get this alternate ending which, in my opinion (and isn’t that worth my weight in gold?) is better left on the cutting room floor. But it’s cool to see it on the DVD, especially since director Figgis makes a personal appearance.

The Movie: 5/10
“Decidedly average.” That would be my answer if you asked me about this movie. There is nothing that stands out as memorable or even exciting, and considering the fact that it’s a thriller/drama/suspense flick you would think something would be at least exciting, if nothing else. Even the confrontations are not powerful enough to boost the energy level now and then. Hey, average isn’t bad, exactly. It’s just average.

As far as the story goes, it’s a good idea. I will give credit where credit is due. The premise starts with a family buying an estate that has fallen into disrepair since it’s repossession a few years earlier. The previous owner’s possessions are all left in the house and the new family sifts through them, selling some, keeping some, and even using some as material for a documentary about the history of the house. Now, the idea that you might move into a house full of someone else’s things and essentially own them is very intriguing. Everything from family photos to clothing are left behind. Imagine someone else owning your family photos. That seems weird enough, but to have someone else wear your family’s clothing, that’s really kind of bizarre when you think about it.

This family isn’t perfect and just for some added flavor they toss in some marital difficulties to add the appropriate amount of stress at key moments.

That’s pretty much when my interest falls away and semi-boredom sets in. The house had been built by a family who obviously owned the estate for many generations. The last member of the family to have lived in the house kind of let it all fall apart when he was sent to prison and his family, wife and two kids, apparently left him in the process.

With some horror film camera work and pseudo scary sounds you are lead to believe early on that his house is some kind of evil incarnate…hmmm could it be true? Stephen Dorff plays the creepy ex-con who does his best to seduce Stone and win over the kids, but Quaid isn’t having it. His character is on the weak side, well, not weak exactly, but calm. He is more of a civilized guy than the redneck hillbilly type Dorff plays and the other locals they have met since coming to the rural area. Quaid doesn’t want to fight or confront the growing menace that is starting to terrorize his family. Can I actually call it terrorize? I think I have seen so many movies where innocent people are victims of treacherous villains who subject them to an endless stream of terrible things that in this movie the impact of a couple snakes just doesn’t get my blood flowing. Terrorize might be too strong a word, mildly annoy might be more accurate.

I was expecting some kind of modern day Amityville Horror I guess and that is not what this movie is about. Maybe my own preconceived ideas didn’t help with my enjoyment of the movie. That might not be fair, but that’s the way the reel spins my friend.

I have a hard time describing this movie, but the best way I can sum it up is to say it’s got some good talent. I love Quaid, and the kids are both good. I like Dorff, and I semi-like Stone. Juliette Lewis is in it and she’s great, as always. The story is a good idea, but the tone of the whole film isn’t hyper tense enough to either make you scared or really care enough about what will happen in the end. I would say I didn’t care because I didn’t care about the characters, but the truth is that the ending was so obvious so quickly the impact of what was going to happen just kind of wore off before we got the the climax. There are moments of cool camera work and it’s got a decent soundtrack. Other than that I can’t rave about this one folks. Is the house a place of spooky evilness that gets the hairs on your arms standing at attention? No. Which is unfortunate. Instead it’s same old same old psycho vs. normal people, but I won’t tell you who wins. You have to have something to look forward to if you decide to rent Cold Creek Manor.

$20.00 is too much. Rent it or wait for it to be on cable.

Overall Score 5/10