Cold Creek Manor

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COLD CREEK MANOR —-“Hammerhead will bash your skull and send you to devils throat!”  When the little kid in a story says that, it’s time to reconsider that move to the new neighborhood. Mystery-thriller from 2003 was lambasted by critics and its gross of $29,119,000 put it way down in 105th place for the year. Formulaic and predictable, with character behaviors that make little sense, it’s no classic, but is still a watchable time-disposer, thanks to the game cast and a handsome production.

Though most reviewers piled on without mercy, critics from both the big “Times”, New York and Los Angeles, liked it and in this instance we’ll side with them instead of the howling mob. At worst, the film is an unsurprising, inconsequential item, but from the hateful write-ups you’d think it was downright toxic.

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Leaving unsatisfying city life, the ‘Tilson’ family (Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone and kids  Kristen Stewart and Ryan Wilson, both 13) make what seems to be a killer deal on a fixer-upper mansion out in the sticks. The killer part comes in the guise of former resident ‘Dale Massie’ (Stephen Dorff), overladen with attitude. His nasty old man (Christopher Plummer) is no prize either, nor is his slattern girlfriend (Juliette Lewis).4778-26236

After praise for his moving work in Far From Heaven, Quaid was body-slammed for this, though not as badly as director Mike Figgis, who couldn’t please critics with anything he did after the 1995 home run of Leaving Las Vegas. Stone’s role doesn’t give her room to do much other than look worried or scared. Dorff puts energetic craziness into his bad boy. Stay away from that well!

With Dana Eskelson. Written by Richard Jefferies. Camera wielded by Declan Quinn. Along with directing, Figgis did the music score.  118 minutes.

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