Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

Cold Creek Manor /

Rated: R

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Plummer
Directed by: Mike Figgis
Produced by: Annie Stewart, Mike Figgis, Richard Jefferies
Written by: Richard Jefferies
Distributor: Touchtone Pictures


     Should a movie really be considered successful if it does the exact opposite of what it intends to do? In most cases, I think not. If you find yourself walking into a screening of Cold Creek Manor, I would hope that you’re not looking for a horror movie. Unlike the recent campy slashers Freddy vs. Jason, Cabin Fever, and Wrong Turn, the makers behind Cold Creek Manor actually believe that they’ve crafted a terrifying tale. Sadly it’s a laughable, conventional, clichéd, worthless mess of ideas that comes to an air-headed conclusion, after slowly plodding along for an hour and fifty-minutes of sheer nothingness. It is entertainingly likeable, though—which says something—even if that something is very, very close to nothing at all.

     Marketed as some sort of supernatural thriller, Cold Creek Manor may draw in a broad range of audiences, but most viewers won’t be satisfied by its mediocre execution. What could’ve been an insanely creepy and intriguing motion picture turns out to be a lackluster exercise in creating suspense. Cold Creek Manor has a great premise and some compelling ideas, but they are never developed in the right way. The strange and predictable plot is the driest aspect of the entire film.

     Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid), his wife Leah (Sharon Stone), and their two children (Kirsten Stewart and Ryan Wilson) are a New York City family, often distressed by living in such a crowded and fast-paced place. An independent documentarian, Cooper could easily work from another location, and Leah could afford to quit her job as a business woman, as well. Before long, and as expected, the Tilson’s find themselves moving away from the city and into the country, to an inexpensive giant, old estate with 1,200 acres of property to go along with it.

     The place hasn’t been inhabited for awhile and all the contents have been left in it, as the previous owner had been serving a three-year jail-term. Certain parts of it are rundown and in desperate need of fixing up. As fate would have it, one day, that same man (Stephen Dorff) who owned the house prior to the Tilson’s, invites himself inside and asks for a maintenance job. Hesitantly, Cooper accepts his offer. As days pass, the man, named Dale Massey, tells Cooper about his past. Cooper learns about Dale’s old wife and children, who supposedly took off one day, and he never saw them again. Later in the movie, mysteries emerge. What really happened to Dale’s former family? What happened in the Tilson’s house, before they owned it? What are they getting themselves into?

     Up until this point, everything is jolly. We are engaged and captivated by Cold Creek Manor, and it works. But right when my hopes for a fabulous climax and a haunting conclusion skyrocketed, due to what I had seen so far, the movie began to plummet. And I don’t just mean it reaches a decline in likeability, I mean it falls into a bottomless pit. Between this flick and the disappointing (but superior) Matchstick Men, I’m convinced that most filmmakers and screenwriters these days aren’t capable of creating decent endings. The final act of Cold Creek Manor, albeit corny, ironic, and enjoyable, contains, roughly, the most obvious thirty-five minutes in the entire history of cinema.

     There is no single person we can blame for this. Certain people’s work is successful at times, and gut-bustlingly nonsensical, at others. The two features of Cold Creek Manor that are the most distasteful are the production, by Annie Stewart, Mike Figgis, and Richard Jefferies and the score, by Figgis, as well. He is also the director, but his work in that department is actually good, and one of the only admirable technical aspects of the film.

     Until Cold Creek Manor makes a run on cable TV, do yourself a favor and forget about seeing it. There are definitely some fun segments in it, but as a whole, it’s nothing short of disastrous. One day, I hope Hollywood will leave all that’s conventional behind, and incorporate more originality into mainstream cinema. Sadly, looking foreward at the rest of this year’s releases, it’s hard to conclude that that day will come anytime soon. Cold Creek Manor is just another piece of trash that should’ve been made for TV, clogging up the screens of multiplexes. Until I see it playing on a network channel during the daytime (where it should be), I will not rest. As for now—I have one thing to say—make it stop, please! Oh god, just make it stop.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale