Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Cold Creek Manor

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some sexuality

Reviewed by: Ben Cornish

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Suspense Thriller
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Plummer | Directed by: Mike Figgis | Produced by: Mike Figgis, Anne Stewart, Richard Jefferies | Written by: Richard Jefferies | Distributor: Touchstone Pictures (a Red Mullt Production)

In “Cold Creek Manor,” Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone star as Cooper and Leah Tilson—worn out Manhattanites who flee the city with their children to create a simpler life in rural Upstate New York. After purchasing an abandoned manor and all of its contents through a bank foreclosure, the Tilson’s begin to restore the grand home.

The restoration project derails when Dale Massie, played by Stephen Dorff, is released from prison and returns to Cold Creek Manor. Massie is the home’s previous owner and his resentment of the Tilson family is obvious from the beginning as he alludes to dark secrets and chilling mysteries contained in the home.

“Cold Creek Manor” begins slowly, offering many questions but few answers. Character development is minimal, but does attempt to provide eerie foreshadowing for a complex and intriguing set of circumstances. Sadly, the foreshadowing is misguided. After about 90 minutes, the movie changes direction and resorts to predictable suspense tactics—rain storms, cut phone lines, axes crashing through doors, and the victimization of family pets. These tactics have been seen many times before, and been done better, in countless other suspense thrillers.

In the finale, the Tilsons undergo dramatic conversions and change from ordinary citizens, whom up this point have demonstrated poor decision making skills and oft wondered, “What do we do now?” into highly trained tactical operatives who manage to defeat an armed criminal with nothing but a stray piece of rope and nonverbal communication.

Despite its ability to create moments of engaging suspense, “Cold Creek Manor” is disturbing in its portrayal of evil. Massie is pure evil—demonstrating senseless murder, blatant drug use, domestic violence and promiscuous sex. A cloud of hopelessness and despair shadow each character and yet the lack of character development never helps the audience explore why. In addition to the sex, violence and drug use there is also brief nudity, glimpses of occult behavior and murder depicted as an appropriate revenge.

It is unfortunate that a film that begins with a promise of intrigue leaves its audience cold.

Violence: Heavy | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Movie Critics
…excessive use of profanity and occasional sexual/nude situations…
—Brian Hughes, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Dale shows up at the trailer of his trashy girlfriend, Ruby, and begins undressing her. The two are overheard having raucous sex, a loveless act barely obscured by a set of blinds. Additionally, Dale is a leering pervert. He has Polaroids of his topless, pubescent stepdaughter (glimpsed several times by moviegoers).
—Plugged In!, Focus on the Family
…avoid this movie because the filmmakers load it with obscenities, sex, nudity, and excessive violence…
—Lisa Rice, Movieguide
…20 F-words and derivatives, 1 obscene hand gesture, …20 religious exclamations…
…a no-surprises, straight-to-video quality family-in-peril psycho-killer thriller…
—Rob Blackwelder, SplicedWire
…a woeful entry in the subcategory of suspensers (“Panic Room,” “Pacific Heights”) that tap into the worries of paranoid homeowners… Nothing could really save “Cold Creek Manor”…
—Colin Covert, StarTribune
…dries up into a dopey thriller …gets swamped by its own inept genre conventions, they deliver moments to unnerve educated urbanites and hearten everyone else. Call it mullet-phobia…
—Ty Burr, Boston Globe
…will leave you cold. That’s an easy but totally honest summation…“Cold Creek Manor” is a dog.
—Chris Vognar, The Dallas Morning News
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