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Cold Creek Manor

Cold Creek Manor Movie Poster

Touchstone Pictures, 2003, Rated R, 1 hr. 58 min.

Good thing Touchstone Pictures is labeling this movie a "thriller", otherwise I would not have known what they were going after.  "Crapper" would have been my guess.  

The plot is simple enough.  Cooper and Leah Tilson (Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone) and their two children decide to move to the country from the big city after their son is hit by a car.  They get a deal on a repossessed old house, Cold Creek Manor, and its contents.  But soon after moving in the former owner, Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff), returns from a prison sentence to the manor.  At first he plays nice and gets Cooper to hire him to get the swimming pool into shape.  Then he turns psycho and decides he wants to run the Tilson family out of town.

  The premise sounds promising, but this movie never gets going, has huge plot holes, and is not suspenseful.  

From the beginning there are plot problems.  The reason for the Tilson's move to the country is bewildering.  Their son barely gets hit by a car (no damage done, but Leah talks about how he almost died!) and they decide to get out of the city because they promised they'd never put their children in danger.  Gee, apparently they don't have cars in the country...

Then there's the problem of Dale's introduction to the family: He just walks in the house and gets a job! Why on earth would Cooper hire Dale to work anywhere near his family knowing that Dale just got out of jail for manslaughter? Never mind the obviously uncomfortable fact that the family is in Dale's house and they own all his belongings.  As long as he gets the pool running, that's the important thing.

As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that Dale was abused by his father (Christopher Plummer) and that's why he's a little psycho.  But even as the filmmakers tried to provide insight into Dale's motives, they blew it by making Dale a sympathetic character, crying even.  Rather than hating him, I felt sorry for him.

I also felt sorry for the pathetic attempt at an action scene that comes after Dale enters the family's life.  The family is getting ready to begin their day, each in separate rooms, when all of a sudden they find snakes in their respective rooms, all at the same time - attack snakes all attacking at the same time!  At that point I looked around the theatre to see if I could see any hidden cameras that would tip me off that I was on Candid Camera.  But I wasn't.

Leah and Cooper (Stone and Quaid)
Leah and Cooper (Stone and Quaid)

Leah and Cooper (Stone and Quaid) in peril
 Leah and Cooper (Stone and Quaid) in peril

Dale (Dorff) about to cause trouble
 Dale (Dorff) about to cause trouble

Ruby (Lewis) at the bar
Ruby (Lewis) at the bar

Leah and Cooper (Stone and Quaid) sense danger
Leah and Cooper (Stone and Quaid) sense danger

Leah (Stone) takes a dip
Leah (Stone) takes a dip

Leah (Stone) takes a dive
Leah (Stone) hangs on!

Apparently I was actually supposed to believe that the snakes got together, synchronized their watches and planned to attack at the same time.  And it gets worse.  The family FREAKS out and begins running around trying to get out of the huge house, away from the five or six snakes.  Leah is crying, the kids are screaming, Cooper is panicking, all over a few snakes that looked like the garden variety, not rattlers or pythons. 

The filmmakers had two-hours in which to give the audience some action and suspense, and instead we get a few snakes.  I expected the family to be really terrorized by Dale - maybe a few chase scenes, a few "where is Dale hiding ready to kill the family" scenes, but there was nothing there. I waited almost two hours for nothing.

As equally bad as the movie is the movie's music (the director also composed the score, so I suppose it's only fitting).  The music is straight out of some 1970s espionage flick.   

Toward the end of the movie Quaid gave up trying to act.  His delivery became bland and unbelievable and his face lacked any emotional display.  I can't blame him entirely though; his lines were so bad he was probably embarrassed to deliver them.

Stone looks stunning throughout the movie, but she's not believable as the mothering type who would leave the big city for the country.  Her acting was affected and her outfits were too overdone.  In one scene she's sitting at the kitchen table wearing a sweater that's falling perfectly off one shoulder.  I could just imagine the stylist setting up the shot and telling her not to move while saying her lines.  In another scene she falls in a well and comes out of the water screaming. I expected the scream to end with, "My hair!"  

Together, Stone and Quaid had about as much chemistry as Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in Gigli.  That is to say, none.  Their interaction with their movie children lacked warmth as well, making their family unit unbelievable.

The filmmakers got it right with Dorff's character, keeping him mostly shirtless and all greased up, brilliantly displaying his six-pack.  I think he had a few lines, but I'm not sure...

And then we have Lewis.  Can she play any other role than drunken, weirdo, hussy? After playing that role a trillion times, what can I say but, oops, she did it again. 

The only bright spot in the movie is a barely recognizable Christopher Plummer who has two too short scenes as Dale's father.  Before I realized it was Plummer, I was thinking how he was blowing the rest of the cast out of the water with his performance.  Once I realized it was him, I was thinking that he must not be getting any royalties from The Sound of Music

I have a few notes filled with other gripes about this movie, but I think I've made my point.  But in case you missed it: Don't see it.  Don't rent it.  You have been warned.

Do you think we got this movie totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion of this movie in our forums!



Touchstone Pictures






118 Minutes







Actor / Actress


Dennis Quaid

Cooper Tilson 

Sharon Stone

Leah Tilson 

Stephen Dorff

Dale Massie

Juliette Lewis


Ryan Wilson

Jesse Tilson

Kristen Stewart

Kristen Tilson

Dana Eskelson

Sheriff Annie Ferguson

Christopher Plummer

Mr. Massie 



Mike Figgis

Director, Producer, Score

Richard Jefferies

Exec. Producer, Screenwriter

Annie Stewart


Lata Ryan

Exec. Producer

Declan Quinn

Director of Photography


Reviewed by: Hauntmistress 9/24/2003


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