xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
"Cold Creek Manor" is another one of those movies where a demented fiend devotes an extraordinary amount of energy to setting up scenes for the camera. Think of the trouble it would be for one man, working alone, to kill a horse and dump it into a swimming pool. The movie is an anthology of cliches, not neglecting both the Talking Killer, who talks when he should be at work, and the reliable climax where both the villain and his victims go to a great deal of inconvenience to climb to a high place so that one of them can fall off.
The movie stars Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone as Cooper and Leah Tilson, who get fed up with the city and move to the country, purchasing a property that looks like the House of the Seven Gables crossed with the Amityville Horror. This house is going to need a lot of work. In "Under the Tuscan Sun," another new movie, Diane Lane is able to find some cheerful Polish workers to rehab her Tuscan villa, but the Tilsons have the extraordinarily bad judgment to hire the former owner of the house, Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff), an ex-con with a missing family. "Do you know what you're getting yourselves into?" asks a helpful local. No, but everybody in the audience does.
The movie of course issues two small children to the Tilsons, so that their little screams can pipe up on cue, as when the beloved horse is found in the pool. And both Cooper and Leah are tinged with the suggestion of adultery, because in American movies, as we all know, sexual misconduct leads to bad real estate choices.
In all movies involving city people who move to the country, there is an unwritten rule that everybody down at the diner knows all about the history of the new property and the secrets of its former owners. The locals act as a kind of Greek chorus, living permanently at the diner and prepared on a moment's notice to issue portentous warnings or gratuitous insults. The key player this time is Ruby (Juliette Lewis), Dale's battered girlfriend, whose sister is Sheriff Annie Ferguson (Dana Eskelson). She smokes a lot, always an ominous sign, and is ambiguous about Dale -- she loves the lug, but gee, does he always have to be pounding on her? The scene where she claims she wasn't hit, she only fell, is the most perfunctory demonstration possible of the battered woman in denial.