"Manor" Is A Thriller That Leaves You "Cold" Review

It’s hard to tell who Cold Creek Manor detests more: the spoiled, out-of-touch, yuppies it clearly delights in taking down a peg, or the impoverished, rural population whose very existence presents a violent threat to hearth and home. Social politics aside, it’s hard to imagine who this watered-down throwback to Straw Dogs was meant to appeal to, though it certainly can’t be fans of well-crafted, engaging thrillers. Slick but predictable, violent but bloodless, Manor unfortunately falls in a category of early-aughts thrillers afraid to get its hands dirty.

The Tilson family, being Cooper (Dennis Quaid), Leah (Sharon Stone), Kristen (Kristen Stewart), and Jesse (Ryan Wilson), has had enough of big city life, and decide to move out to the country in the hope of, proverbially, getting away from it all. But the beautiful house that they never would have been able to afford within Manhattan city limits comes with a past, one that involves perpetual sociopath Stephen Dorff. Though he presents himself well at first, it’s easy enough to tell by the family’s obvious discomfort at his country mannerisms that he’s going to be trouble. Throw in Juliette Lewis for good measure, and you have an urbanite’s nightmare of how the other half lives, and how insane they’ll become if they ever get a look at the nice things you have.

There’s a seething class tension at the heart of Manor, and one can’t help but feel that it would have been considerably more engaging had they approached it a little less tastefully, or at least with something like a sense of humor. For a film that so freely recalls Dogs and Deliverance (and is directed by noted provocateur Mike Figgis), Manor never feels like it takes the safety off, or is willing to really push its characters into frightening places. That might be because of the limitations of its cast (Dennis Quaid is never an effective Hoffman stand-in), but it might be because they thought that would turn off some of the audience that might presumably identify with the family. Considering just how little heat comes off from them, they probably didn’t need to worry.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The disc contains an alternate ending, deleted scenes, “Rules of the Game” featurette, “Cooper’s Documentary” that he works on throughout the film, and a commentary from director Mike Figgis.

"Cold Creek Manor" is on sale September 4, 2012 and is rated R. Thriller. Directed by Mike Figgis. Written by Richard Jefferies. Starring Dennis Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Wilson, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff.

Sep
09
2012
Anders Nelson • Associate Editor

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