Cold Creek Manor
|Cold Creek Manor|
|Directed by||Mike Figgis|
|Produced by||Mike Figgis
|Written by||Richard Jefferies|
|Music by||Mike Figgis|
|Edited by||Dylan Tichenor|
Cold Creek Manor Productions
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
Cold Creek Manor is a 2003 American psychological thriller film directed by Mike Figgis. The screenplay by Richard Jefferies focuses on a family terrorized by the former owner of the rural estate they bought in foreclosure. The film stars Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Stewart and Christopher Plummer.
When documentary filmmaker Cooper Tilson and his wife Leah decide life in New York City has become unbearable, they and their children Kristen and Jesse move into a decaying mansion filled with the possessions of the previous family. They befriend local tavern owners Ray and Ellen Pinski and their daughter Stephanie. As Cooper begins to sort through the many documents and family photographs scattered throughout the house, he decides to commit its history to film.
Converting the old building into their dream house becomes a nightmare for the Tilsons when previous owner Dale Massie, recently released from prison, shows up and pressures Cooper into hiring him to help with the renovations. While he initially proves to be a good worker, the underlying sense of menace he projects is unsettling. A series of terrifying incidents, including Cooper's being pursued by an unknown car, the sudden appearance of the poisonous snakes in the house, and the killing of the horse given to them by the Pinskis leads the Tilsons to research the estate's dark past. Hoping to glean some details about its history, Cooper visits Dale's aging and slightly demented father in the nursing home where he is living. Disjointed comments made by the elderly man lead Cooper to believe Dale murdered his wife and children, and he begins to search his 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) property for their remains. Sheriff Annie Ferguson, sister of Dale's battered, slatternly girlfriend Ruby, is skeptical about Dale's guilt, but slowly comes to realize Cooper may be right.
Cooper's suspicions are confirmed when he and Leah discover three skeletons in Devil's Throat, a deep well, hidden in the woods. Using a walkie talkie, he contacts Sheriff Ferguson, unaware she has been attacked and disabled by Dale, who punctures the tires on Cooper's truck and sets Leah's car on fire to prevent them from escaping. Trapping them in the house in the middle of a storm that has knocked out the electricity, he forces them to rely on their wits and physical prowess to save themselves. Dale finally corners Cooper and Leah on the roof after chasing them through the mansion. Dale, now raving mad, openly declares his insanity as well as his intent to kill them and throw them down the Devil's Throat like his family. However, the couple is able to turn the tables on their tormentor by charging him with a line of rope that knocks him off his feet. They quickly tie him down against a roof lantern before he can break free. Cooper takes the killing tool and taunts Dale as Dale had done to him, before shattering the skylight, sending the screaming Dale to his death.
The film cuts to show that the bodies of Dale's family are now rightly entombed in the family graveyard at Cold Creek Manor and that Cooper and his family have finally attained their wanted peace.
- Dennis Quaid as Cooper Tilson
- Sharon Stone as Leah Tilson
- Stephen Dorff as Dale Massie
- Juliette Lewis as Ruby Ferguson
- Kristen Stewart as Kristen Tilson
- Christopher Plummer as Mr. Massie
- Ryan Wilson as Jesse Tilson
- Dana Eskelson as Sheriff Annie Ferguson
- Simon Reynolds as Ray Pinski
- Kathleen Duborg as Ellen Pinski
- Paula Brancati as Stephanie Pinski
- Aidan Devine as Skip Linton
- Wayne Robson as Stan Holland
- Jordan Pettle as Declan
- Ray Paisley as Dink
- Shauna Black as Janice
- Peter Outerbridge as Dave Miller
- Karen Glave as Tina
Stephen Holden of the New York Times observed, "A serious filmmaker like Mike Figgis can be forgiven, I suppose, for slumming, when he's got a cast as stellar as the one that infuses the scream-by-numbers thriller Cold Creek Manor with more psychological credibility than its screenplay merits." He said the film "belongs to the Cape Fear tradition of thrillers in which the mettle of a civilized family man is tested in a life-or-death struggle with crude macho evil."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated the film 1½ stars and called it "an anthology of cliches" and "a thriller that thrills us only if we abandon all common sense." He added, "Of course preposterous things happen in all thrillers, but there must be at least a gesture in the direction of plausibility, or we lose patience."
Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "As haunted-house thrillers go, Cold Creek Manor is more ludicrous than the average but at the same time more handsomely produced. Hokum with a big-budget gloss, it's a simple, formulaic nail-biter ... The script ... grafts from every possible thriller – most of which had pilfered their predecessors – and loads on implausibilities until we wonder why the actors play it seriously."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone rated the film one star and commented, "It's sad to see risk-taking director Mike Figgis do a generic thriller for a paycheck and then not even screw with the rules . . . the only things haunting this movie are cliches."
Steve Persall of the St. Petersburg Times graded the film D and thought "all this bad acting and run-of-the-thrill dialogue might be entertaining if something would just happen besides a silly snake scare and a wan truck chase. The movie plays like an all-star episode of This Old House for the first hour, a telenovela for the next 30 minutes, then, finally, a hack boogeyman flick in the last reel. This isn't a movie, it's channel surfing."
Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film "a woefully predictable imperiled-yuppie-family-under-siege suspenser that hardly seems worth the attention of its relatively high-profile participants. Taking a break from his multiple-perspective digicam experiments, helmer Mike Figgis displays at best a half-hearted interest in delivering the commercial genre goods, while Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone fish in vain to find any angles to play in their dimension-free characters."
The film opened in 2,035 theaters in the United States on September 19, 2003 and grossed $8,190,574 in its opening weekend, ranking #5 at the box office behind Underworld, Secondhand Lions, The Fighting Temptations, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. It eventually earned $21,386,011 in the US and $7,733,423 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $29,119,434.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment released the film on Region 1 DVD on March 2, 2004. It is in anamorphic widescreen format with audio tracks in English and French and subtitles in Spanish. Bonus features include commentary with director Mike Figgis; deleted scenes and an alternate ending; Rules of the Game, in which Figgis discusses the components of a psychological thriller; and Cooper's Documentary, in which he discusses the process of making the film within the film.