During the rain-soaked finale of Cold Creek Manor, Stephen Dorff screams at Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone, “You guys should have stayed in New York!” The idea, of course, is that there are some places sophisticates just shouldn’t venture, such as…

upstate. Or, as in the case of director Mike Figgis, the mainstream thriller. Not that the arty auteur of split-screen experiments such as Timecode and Hotel is completely out of his element: Like those movies, Cold Creek involves a filmmaker, documentarian Cooper Tilson (Quaid). He and his wife, Leah (Stone, apparently on a rebound since she bedded the AOL mascot), move out of the city with their kids, but despite what the film’s trailer suggests, they don’t buy a possessed mansion. It’s merely repossessed, and they plan to refurbish it in high style while Cooper produces a film on the house’s history. Soon, the manor’s former owner, Dale (Dorff), arrives—fresh off a prison stint, of course—and convinces the couple to let him help with repairs. What follows is a veritable checklist of genre conventions, as Dale’s handyman-from-hell antics escalate beyond just plain creepy to full-on psychotic. From kids put in jeopardy to the slaughter of a family animal to a climactic showdown in a raging storm, it’s all here. Richard Jefferies’ script (his first big-screen outing since the Chevy Chase/Jonathan Taylor Thomas vehicle Man of the House) takes its sweet time setting the plot in motion, and Figgis’ suspense-draining atmospherics don’t really help. Only those cinematic cynics who might appreciate watching the shameless scenery chewing of Dorff and Christopher Plummer (who, as Dale’s bastard of a father, hams it up confined to a hospital bed) should venture into Cold Creek’s 118 minutes. Everyone else should try renting a double feature of The Money Pit and The Ring for an idea of what might have been. —Jason Powell