Directed by Mike Figgis, starring Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis and Dana Eskelson.
Frazzled by the whirlwind of modern city life, a family of four heads for the hills, investing in a ramshackle one-time manor in upstate New York. Before long, wouldn't you know it, the quiet life in the rural idyll turns out to be anything but. Spooky secrets from the past come to the fore and the house and its repossessed contents take on a whole new significance.
In a move back to the mainstream, director Figgis handles this suspense thriller in light and breezy fashion. Well-paced and almost entirely predictable, the interest lies in the details of the mystery rather than any doubt about the ending. Quaid and Stone, both re-emerging after a period of relative Hollywood obscurity, work well as the couple trying to re-ignite their relationship. And the kids manage to have more in common with real-life youngsters than their typical cutesy celluloid counterparts.
'Cold Creek Manor' explores questions of privacy and ownership, albeit in a fairly superficial manner. The catalyst comes in the form of ex-con Dorff revisiting his former home, professing nothing but benevolent intentions. Pitted against Quaid's craggy, mild-mannered documentary maker, Dorff is surprisingly good at conveying the latent menace under the youthful, rugged charm.
Juliette Lewis co-stars, all smirking eyes and bee-stung lips, in the kind of slightly off-kilter sexually provocative role that is now almost her trademark. And Dana Eskelson, as her straight-up cop sister, acts as a foil to the rising paranoid hysteria.
This is not a scary movie. Glossy, sometimes silly and occasionally funny - a frenzied set piece involving hordes of snakes gets the most laughs - the nastier side of the tale is less well-handled. Bad stuff does happen but the good guys always seem like they're gonna be okay. This doesn't matter. With all its generic ingredients in place and a mad old mansion to stir them in, 'Cold Creek Manor' is the kind of enjoyable, if forgettable, nonsense that does what it does well.