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Featured Blu-ray Review: Cold Creek Manor

September 22nd, 2012

Cold Creek Manor - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Disney is flooding the Blu-ray market with catalogue releases. A few weeks ago this included four horror films. One of them, Arachnophobia, was pushed back at the last minute, so all of the screeners arrived late. Tonight I'll try to get through all four of them. It shouldn't be as hard as it sounds, as I'm pretty sure I've seen three of them already. The only one I missed the first time around was Cold Creek Manor. Given its box office numbers, I wasn't the only one.

The Movie

First of all, whoever did the sound design nearly gave me a heart attack. The film starts with a radio announcer saying something I could barely hear, but not understand, so I cranked up the volume, then Leah Tilson's alarm went off and I nearly had the aforementioned heart attack.

Leah Tilson is an overworked businesswoman while her husband, Cooper is an independent documentarian. Leah's job involves a lot of travel, which makes it hard on the rest of the family, Kristen and Jesse (Ryan Wilson). After Jesse nearly gets hit by a SUV because they were scrambling to get to school on time, the family decides maybe they shouldn't live in the big city any more and they should buy a house in a small town.

Fortunately, they find a really large house in Texas that's in their price range, the titular Cold Creek Manor. It's in their price range for a couple of reasons. Mainly, the bank foreclosed on it, because the previous owner couldn't pay for it. It's a really big house and it is furnished, which is a plus. On the negative side, it is a fixer-upper, to be generous.

After Cooper finds pictures and videos of the previous owners, he decides that not only will they fix up the place, he will make a documentary of the process. Along the way, they become friends with the Pinskis, Ray and Ellen (Kathleen Duborg), plus their daughter, Stephanie (Paula Brancati). The Pinskis used to be the new people in town and after five years the locals still haven't accepted them, so they are eager to become friends with the Tilsons. The Tilsons are also happy to have friends, especially since Kristen and Stephanie are really close in age. They even buy Kristen a horse so the pair of them can ride together. On the other hand, Jesse isn't finding anyone to place with and instead has become a bit obsessed with Grady, the son of the previous family who lived there, till they disappeared, at least all of them, but the husband disappeared.

After more than 20 minutes, the movie finally introduces us to the plot. The previous owner, Dale Massie, couldn't pay for the house, because he was in jail. However, that changed shortly after the Tilsons buy the home and he's upset that they bought the house before he could. The Tilsons feel guilty about this and hire him as part of the crew that will help renovate the house. Even the kids know this is a bad idea. And shortly after hiring him, bad things start to happen. Is the creepy man just out of prison whose wife and two kids disappeared responsible? Is it one of the other creepy locals? Is it a spooky ghost?

We have this film categorized as a thriller / suspense; however, it is neither thrilling nor suspenseful. There are many reasons it is neither of those. Firstly, the sheer amount of clichés in the movie is oppressive. There is nothing here that stand out as original. One of the worst clichés is the amount of plot-dependent stupidity. If any of the adults were half as smart as the two kids, then most of the plot wouldn't have happened. Also, the film has serious pacing issues. It takes more than 20 minutes before there's even a hint something it wrong and even then it is still on a slow burn for far too long. The movie is just shy of two hours long, but a good screenwriter could have chopped at least a half-hour out of the script. The film is too heavy-handed in its attempts at foreshadowing with a booming score with the introduction of any important clue. The acting ranges from wooden to over-the-top. I preferred the latter, because at least then the film wasn't dull. There are a lot of issues that are forgivable in a film like this, being dull isn't one of them.

The Extras

All the extras from the old DVD are ported over, including the audio commentary track, two making of featurettes, and about a dozen minutes of deleted and alternate scenes. Nothing too exciting. The video is fine, but nothing more. The image was soft and a little too grainy, especially in the darker scenes, so the level of details was never high. The colors were off a little with skin tones on the pink side, but this wasn't too bad. The audio is better, with clear dialogue, good separation, active surround sound speakers, and a booming subwoofer. It does cost $15, which is a lot of shovelware.

The Verdict

Cold Creek Manor is a misfire. It is a thriller / suspense that is strictly paint-by-numbers and never escapes the mountain of clichés in the genre. The Blu-ray has no exclusive extras and the video is subpar, so even if you are a fan of the film, it is only worth a rental. If you've never seen it, you are not missing out on much.

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