(Originally posted on 1/9/04)
Don't call it a comeback. Sharon Stone returns from moviemaking purgatory -- actually, for anyone who's seen 2000's god-awful Beautiful Joe, it was more like cinematic hell -- with Cold Creek Manor, a worthless thriller about a rich New York City family who buy a house in the sticks and, in the process, royally piss off the redneck former owner (and recently released convict) who wants his home back. Director Mike Figgis tries to conjure up the ghost of The Shining via dreamy transitional fades and lots of slow, ominous shots of the titular country mansion, but unlike Kubrick's haunted house classic, the bogeyman isn't metaphysical but, as personified by the taut and tan Stephen Dorff, just a wacko psychical specimen named Dale Massie who's annoyed that some snooty city folk are getting comfy in his pa's home. For no good reason other than to give Dorff's psycho access to the family, the film has Stone and Dennis Quaid's Leah and Cooper Tilson hire the lunatic as their carpenter, and soon he's terrorizing them and their two kids by planting venomous snakes throughout the house and then killing their daughter's horse. Quaid's Cooper is a documentary filmmaker who begins working on a film about the previous family's strange history, and thus winds up uncovering the wholly unsurprising revelation that Dale might have murdered his former family. Wow. You mean the violent lunatic who claims that his family just up and disappeared might actually be a killer, thus setting up a climactic showdown in the rain atop Cold Creek Manor in which Dale attempts to dispatch the new tenants just as he did his wife and two kids? Get outta town! For anyone who makes it past the first fifteen minutes, at which point Dale's entrance marks the end of the film's mystery and suspenseful, be prepared for some supremely listless and scare-free nonsense.