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Here's yet another film that I believe suffered from some poor advertising. Or, at the very least, some misguided advertising. As I recall when it was released, there was a strong vibe to those ads that indicated some sort of haunted house or ghost story or something. So it came up on Encore, I remembered those ads and wanted to see what kind of haunted house story I was going to get. Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone? Sounds alright. I'm not generally a big fan of haunted house pictures, but I figured I'd give it a look. At least it's rated R, right?
Well, well, well... So. So where are the ghosts and sh*t? Turns out this is not the ghost story I thought it was... A big, rich family from "the big city" (I think it was Boston or New York--of course--everyone's from either those cities or LA these days) gets fed up with the hustle and bustle and insanity of living in the city and decide to move out to the middle of nowhere. They stumble upon a glorious old house in glorious old decay--Cold Creek Manor. The house is owned by a bank ready to off-load it for whatever they can get for it. Apparently, they could get around 200 grand for it. Sh*t, this house is huge! The property goes on forever! There are houses in the Twin Cities here that are 1/6th as big as the house in this film that cost more than that! Anyway, eventually, the last surviving, capable, member of the family that once lived there turns up, fresh from prison, and a little annoyed that his house is all gone. So he starts terrorizing the family all slowly and methodically and weirdly... Or does this family just have some really rotten luck...? Well, at any rate, Dennis Quaid thinks the guy is out to get them and goes mildly berserk trying to prove it. He's a documentary filmmaker, and it doesn't help matters that he's doing his current documentary on the family that lived in that big ol' mansion before he and his family moved in.
Here's the breakdown:
--The acting is generally pretty good (one scene I'll point out later is the exception)
--Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone after all. She's done well to prove she's more than just a remarkable specimen of femininity--she's also an actress, after all.
--Impressive sets--that house is beautiful--from the decaying look of it's years of neglect to it's remarkable half-restoration--it's a great lookin' place to live.
--Fairly interesting story.
--Pretty good chemistry between Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid, they're characters (the married couple) endure arguments and crumbling marriage with hints of adultery.
Didn't Hurt It, Didn't Help:
--The atmosphere was pretty mild. Nothing special, and nothing doing a really intriguing job of building tension.
--The usual plot-point that one part of the mystery can only be solved by a chance discovery by the children is, of course, present here too.
--Some very mild blood/gore scenes. Mostly, with just some blood--and a skeleton or two. Nothing major. Looked good, but wasn't anything special.
--Only mild violence. Fight scenes, mostly.
--Very mild nudity, and one sex scene--through window blinds no less. The nudity is pretty much relegated to pictures--photographs--of the wife of the last member of Cold Creek's original family.
--Sharon Stone kept her clothes on. Okay, I'm kidding. She did, but that didn't hurt the film in any way.
--The music varies from average, to simply obnoxious. We get scenes that contain mild drama, but have a piano pounded on with a feverish, near lunatic intensity. Here's an example: Car driving down stretch of road, someone's worried about an argument--overcast with DUNN-DUNN-DUNN-DUNN-DUNN-DUNN-DUNNNNN!!!! as loud as the howling of hell beasts in hell.
--One exceptionally poor scene where the family is apparently threatened by generally harmless American mountain snakes. The snakes slowly slither to and fro through the house and everybody freaks out with enough overacting to match any Keanu Reeves scene. It just wasn't scary. Not at all. Maybe, if there were tons and tons of snakes--like in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" it would've been mildly scary. But whole family is running away from a terrifying torrent of roughly 6 snakes. The scene, very simply, wasn't believable. I almost laughed at it--it was that stupid.
--Some clichés and cheesiness pop up occasionally. No real surprises.
--Occasionally feels like a "Deliverance"-style "big city folks out 'n their element" movie--but not as good as "Deliverance" (which is a classic).
--Dennis Quaid punches Sharon Stone in the face. Oopsy!
Acting: 7/10 (except for that one scene) Story: 6/10 Atmosphere: 5/10 Cinematography: 5/10 Character Development: 7/10 Special Effects/Make-up: 7/10 (not much to note) Nudity/Sexuality: 2/10 (quantity) Violence/Gore: 6/10 Sets/Backgrounds: 8/10 Dialogue: 7/10 Music: 3/10 Writing: 6/10 Direction: 6/10
Cheesiness: 3/10 Crappiness: 0/10
I'm giving it a 5 because the film suffers from a few too many problems. It's probably good for fans of horror/thrillers to take a look at, but is likely too mild for hardcore horror fanatics to care about. Better, maybe, for the average movie-goer looking for a light thriller to spend an evening with.
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