Cold Creek Manor (Blu-ray)
Directed by Mike Figgis
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 119 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish, French, others
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 20.00
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Review Date: August 29, 2012
Determined to get out of dangerous New York City, documentary filmmaker Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid), his wife Leah (Sharon Stone), and children Kristen (Kristen Stewart) and Jesse (Ryan Wilson) move to rural upstate New York where they find the old Massie estate Cold Creek Manor deteriorating. Buying it for a bargain price with most of the furnishings and belongings of the Massies still present, Cooper gets the idea to begin making a documentary about the rich history the house is offering. But they don’t count on newly released-from-prison Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff) showing up and asking to work on the family home place which, feeling somewhat guilty, the Tilsons agree to let him do. But soon, Dale’s bitter feelings begin to surface about losing the homestead due to his arrest and the unknown whereabouts of his missing wife and children begin to affect his relationship with the Tilsons, and after he’s fired, he vows to get his home back.
At certain moments during the course of this overlong movie (a minute shy of two hours for a simple revenge story), Richard Jefferies’ script suggests there may be malevolent spirits at work in the house or that someone other than the obviously disturbed Dale Massie is responsible for the series of mishaps that befall the Tilsons which is what makes the film’s final quarter hour such an unmitigated disappointment. There are no surprises: the people we feel somewhat suspicious about are red herrings and the guilty party is exactly who we’ve expected it to be. True, Mike Figgis directs a couple of effective shock moments: finding a series of poisonous snakes at various places in the house makes one momentarily jump (point of view shots add immeasurably in cranking up the tension) and something dead found in the pool later is eerily and quite ethereally shot. But the climactic scenes staged around a disguised well and later on the roof of the house are so flatly handled and lacking in real suspense that it’s almost impossible to believe they were directed by the same man who earlier had staged such creative shocks with those snakes.
Dennis Quaid’s character is inconsistently written: alternately a wimp and then full of bravado, it’s not the actor’s fault we never get a real handle on his character; the writing is unsubstantial. Sharon Stone’s wife doesn’t get many opportunities to show what she can do dramatically. On the other hand, the film’s villain Dale Massie gets all of the showy moments, and Stephen Dorff milks every one of them. Though he might tend to go over the top just a bit at certain points, he’s still the most interesting person in the movie, and we watch his activities with relish. Juliette Lewis plays his white trash girl friend adequately but without much élan. Christopher Plummer gets a couple of brassy scenes as the Massie patriarch rotting away in a nursing home, and Dana Eskelson as the local sheriff (and sister of Lewis’ Ruby) does what she can with a character in dire need of more development.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. With a mostly sharp and pleasing picture only occasionally hampered by some ill-focused shots and very appealing color saturation levels, the video quality is quite impressive. Flesh tones sometimes take on a rosy glow but are otherwise effectively handled, and black levels are fine. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is a very successful one with the surround fronts and rears skillfully utilized to convey the country sounds as well as the ominous creaks and moans of the house and later in the movie a raging thunderstorm. Director Mike Figgis composed the bombastic score for the film which gets a solid expansion into the full soundstage. Dialogue has been expertly recorded and appears mostly in the center channel though there are a couple of occasions where directionalized dialogue makes an effective appearance.
The audio commentary is by director Mike Figgis. He speaks quite easily and well about the experience of making the movie in Canada adding personal observations about the cast and crew members in an effective descriptive track.
All of the bonus materials apart from the promos are presented in 480i.
“Cooper’s Documentary” delves a bit into the documentaries being shot by the film’s leading character. Director Mike Figgis explains how he shot the footage for these. Also on hand to make comments about the video footage shot for the movie are stars Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone and writer Richard Jefferies. This runs 7 ½ minutes.
“Rules of the Genre” brings up Mike Figgis’ six rules for making a successful thriller. He’s supported in his suppositions by writer Richard Jefferies and co-stars Sharon Stone, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Plummer, and Dana Eskelson. It runs 8 minutes.
An (ineffectual) alternate ending is presented which runs 4 ¼ minutes.
There are six deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 8 ½-minute grouping. There is also an introduction by director Mike Figgis which may be selected.
The disc includes 1080p promo trailers for Frankenweenie and ABC-TV suspense series.
3/5 (not an average)
If you want to see a family-in-peril film, Straw Dogs or Cape Fear would be a better bet. Cold Creek Manor has an attractive cast and a couple of decent scares, but there is certainly nothing here to justify a two-hour running time or the lack of really sustained surprises or suspense.