Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid decide that Big Bad NYC has simply become too much. Shetakes a year’s leave of absence from her high-paying job, and the couple moves with their twoyoung children to rural New England, buying a huge old house at a rock-bottom price. Nevera good idea. In the house are still all the possessions of the previous owner, and Quaid, adocumentary filmmaker, is both fascinated and disturbed by what he finds, including photos thatpoint to distinctly unhe…lthy goings on in the past. Just as they’re settling in, the previous ownerin the person of Stephen Dorff returns. Our couple, behaving like idiots, hire him to help restorethe place. Naturally, he will do anything to get them out of his house. Nastiness ensues.
You’ve got to know a movie is in trouble when it is marketed as something other than it is.Or maybe it is merely an encouraging sign of the continuing good box-office health of the horrorfilm that led to Cold Creek Manor having a trailer (significant in its absence on the DVD)that pretended that the film was a supernatural tale. Certainly the set-up belongs more to theBurnt Offerings school of storytelling. The opening is too slow, but there are someintriguing hints of buried nastiness. Then Dorff shows up, and everything plays out by rote. Hell,the fact that Juliette Lewis adds yet another trailer trash (literally) role to her resume should tellyou that there are no surprises to be had. All sorts of nice deep-focus tracking shots, but theytakes us nowhere except to unflattering comparisons with The Shining.
Very nice sound. Even the opening aerial shot of Manhattan is accompanied by a fullenvironmental effect of the white noise of distant traffic. This careful attention to the soundcarries on all the way through, with a sinister atmosphere of insect calls and the like in fullsurround. there are a couple of moments where the surround is over-enthusiastic (as when a doorin front of us is heard opening in the rear as well), but this is a very minor cavil, more than madeup for by spot-on place of, say, the fluttering of a bird’s wings. The sound is so good, I wish themovie was worthy of it.
Pretty nice picture too. The colours are very warm and rich, with superb contrasts and fineblacks. There is no visible edge enhancement, and only the most minimal grain. The image isgenerally nicely sharp. The resolution might be pushed just a fraction more, but essentially this isa first-rate transfer.
Director Mike Figgis (who has done much better work) provides the commentary, going intothe hows and whys of the filming, and doing so in fine, articulate fashion. He also has optionalcommentary on some of the seven deleted scenes and alternate ending. There are two featurettes.They are standard promo, and not as focussed as some, though they do each have a theme theyreturn to. “Cooper’s Documentary” emphasizes Quaid’s character’s documentary making, while“Rules of the Genre” has the creators discussing how to make a thriller. This last piece is ratherironic, given that the film fails miserably to follow such advice as “stay one step ahead” and “cutto the chase.” On the main menu screen, hit the left button while the “Play Movie” option ishighlighted, and you’ll land on a Polaroid. Select this, and the Easter Egg is a scored still gallery.There are trailers for Hidalgo, Veronica Guerin, The Haunted Mansionand the Tron 2.0 game, but none for the feature itself. The menu is animated and scored,though the animation post-transitions is lackluster.
The DVD looks nice and sounds terrific. Now if only the movie wasn’t such a tired oldretread.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending with Optional Selected Commentary
- “Rules of the Genre” Featurette