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Mike Figgis
Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Wilson, Dana Eskelson, Christopher Plummer, Simon Reynolds, Kathleen Duborg, Paula Brancati
Writing Credits:
Richard Jefferies

Have you ever wondered what happened in your home before you lived there?

Cold Creek Manor is the heart-pounding thriller that will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat in tension-filled suspense. Wanting to escape city life for the saner, safer countryside, New Yorkers Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid), his wife Leah (Golden Globe winner Sharon Stone) and their two children move into a dilatpidated old mansion still filled with the possessions of the previous family. Turning it into their dream house soon becomes a living nightmare when the previous owner (Stephen Dorff) shows up, and a series of terrifying incidents lead them on a spine-tingling search for clues to the estate's dark and lurid past.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$8.190 million on 2035 screens.
Domestic Gross
$21.384 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $20.00
Release Date: 9/4/2012

• Audio Commentary with Director Mike Figgis
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes
• “Rules of the Genre” Featurette
• “Cooper’s Documentary”
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Cold Creek Manor [Blu-Ray] (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 4, 2012)

After cinematic experiments like 2000’s Time Code, director Mike Figgis returned with a more conventional piece via 2003’s Cold Creek Manor. At the start, we meet the Tilson family. Father Cooper (Dennis Quaid) makes documentaries, which leaves him at home to care for teen daughter Kristen (Kristen Stewart) and younger son Jesse (Ryan Wilson). Mother Leah (Sharon Stone) travels a lot for business and acts as the family’s primary breadwinner.

When Jesse almost gets run over by an aggressive driver, the family moves out of Manhattan and goes to upstate New York. They find a stately abode called Cold Creek Manor that they decide to purchase. The bank foreclosed on the property, and all of the prior residents’ stuff remains there. They go through it, and Cooper decides to research the history of this old place. Jesse also seems to become obsessed with the spooky writings of Grady, a former resident who had been about the same age at the time he wrote.

Before too long, however, one of the evicted folks reappears in the form of Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff). He just got out of jail and comes to visit the old home. We find out the Massies owned CCM for generations, and since he knows the place so well – and needs work – Dale offers to help fix up the joint for pay.

From there, the plot thickens. Gradually Dale comes to seem creepier and more intrusive, and weird things start to happen around the house. All of this inexorably leads toward a confrontation.

Manor is what they call a genre flick, and it firmly embraces all of the inherent clichés. In fact, without clichés, this movie wouldn’t exist. It offers virtually nothing other than the same old, same old, and fails to present any elements that allow it to stand out from the pack.

A lot of the problem stems from the pacing. The movie progresses at a crawl, and it takes forever to get anywhere. Once it does arrive at its destination, you feel somewhat cheated, as you can’t quite believe you waited all that time for such a minor payoff.

That’s because this sort of flick should present some surprises, but none occur during Manor. That seems like a particular concern since it appears to set up some possibly intriguing elements. During the second act, the movie concentrates a lot of emphasis on Jesse’s obsession with Grady, and these bits seem like they’ll take us somewhere intriguing. I thought a supernatural element might emerge, but instead, all of that work occurs just for one minor tie-in toward the end. The whole Jesse/Grady subplot feels unnecessary.

Director Figgis certainly fails to shoot the film in a way that makes it come to life. We get many of the stereotypical “something bad’s gonna happen” images with the usual cheap results. He milks the cheesy scares but never produces anything genuinely frightening or alarming.

Ultimately, Cold Creek Manor provides nothing more than a bland and predictable thriller. It doesn’t present a single surprising or intriguing element, and it really seems like the kind of thing you’d see dumped on Cinemax were it not for the prominent talent involved.

2012 update footnote: score one for marketing subtlety! Back in 2003, Kristen Stewart was a cinematic newcomer with only one notable role to her credit: 2002’s Panic Room. Thanks to the mega-successful Twilight franchise, however, she’s now a prominent movie star – and yet the Blu-ray’s packaging barely mentions her. Kudos to the folks who put it together in their ability to resist the urge to exploit Stewart’s now famous face.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Cold Creek Manor appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a good representation of the source.

In general, sharpness came across well. Occasionally some shots betrayed a little softness, but those instances popped up infrequently. The majority of the flick appeared nicely detailed and concise. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement failed to occur. The movie lacked print defects, but it seemed grainier than I expected for a modern flick; it seems certain that no one will accuse those behind the transfer of slathering on noise reduction.

Colors appeared natural and distinctive. The movie occasionally favored slightly stylized tones, mostly to give it a creepy look, but the hues mainly were clean and rich. Black levels seemed acceptable. They were reasonably dense, though they appeared slightly inky at times. Shadow detail was also generally solid, though a few shots were somewhat thick. Some rather dark “day for night” shots looked the worst. As a whole, the movie presented an attractive image, with only a smattering of issues.

Even better, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Cold Creek Manor helped bring the material to life. The soundfield provided a surprisingly engaging piece. Music consistently demonstrated smooth stereo imaging, while the effects also popped up in the appropriate places. Scenes with movement blended together well, and the movie offered a very good sense of ambience. It also featured some creepy noises that mostly popped up in the surrounds and helped make the atmosphere more disquieting. The surrounds didn’t play an extremely active role, but they contributed to the sense of foreboding and worked well.

Audio quality always sounded solid. Speech appeared distinct and crisp, and I detected no issues with edginess or intelligibility. Music seemed bright and clear, as the score showed nice range and definition. Effects also fared well. They depicted the elements concisely and with fine dimensionality. Bass response seemed quite good; low-end was consistently tight and firm, and those pieces lacked any unnatural boominess. Ultimately, the audio of Manor served the movie well.

How did this Blu-Ray compare to the original DVD from 2003? Audio showed a bit more pep and verve, and visuals demonstrated elevated levels of definition and clarity. This was a good upgrade.

The Blu-ray includes the same extras as the DVD. We begin with an audio commentary from director Mike Figgis, who provides a running, screen-specific piece that offers intermittently useful material.

To his credit, Figgis goes over a wide array of subjects. He touches on the script and changes between it and the final flick, various other deleted elements and editing choices, the cast and their work, the score, locations, and a mix of additional topics. The commentary starts off pretty well, but before too long, Figgis starts to focus too much on tedious areas that mainly involve back patting. He talks about how much he likes different elements and aspects of the film, and the track turns pretty dull after a while. Figgis gets into the creation of the flick well enough to make the commentary moderately productive, but it seems fairly average as a whole.

Next we get Cooper’s Documentary. In this seven-minute and 12-second piece, we see some movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and interview snippets with Figgis, actors Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone, and writer/executive producer Richard Jefferies. The show covers a little background for the character and the scenario and then goes through how they created the material that would end up in Cooper’s documentary about the Massies. Some of the shots from the set seem interesting, but not a lot of practical details pop up in this somewhat dull program.

For an examination of the Rules of the Genre, a seven-minute and 58-second featurette mixes more movie snippets with footage from the set and information from Figgis, Jefferies, Stone, Christopher Plummer, Dana Eskelson and Juliette Lewis. It goes through all of the rules that they felt they had to honor. This covers topics like “cut to the chase”, editing, the element of surprise, and pacing. It seems odd to hear a filmmaker as experimental as Figgis talk about inflexible rules, but at least this piece gives us an idea why he made so a bland and predictable flick. Much of the featurette just provides generic praise for the movie, though, so don’t expect a lot of insight.

The Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending section opens with a 39-second introduction from Figgis; he tells us some generic notes on unused footage. Then we can watch six deleted scenes as well as the alternate ending; the pieces fill a total of 12 minutes and 45 seconds. These include Leah flirting with Dale, some shtick from the snake removers, tension between Cooper and Leah, her drive with the kids back to Manhattan, two separate scenes of more fighting during the climax, and the alternate ending.

The clip with the flirting might have worked, as it helped set up that element a little more clearly, but the other bits seemed superfluous and redundant. The alternate ending also appeared awfully long; though it included a couple of mildly interesting revelations, it would have made a draggy flick even more tedious.

Note that the Blu-ray loses one deleted scene found on the old DVD. That one showed another confrontation between Cooper and Dale over a game of pool. It wasn’t an interesting sequence – in fact, it was pretty tedious - but I’m still surprised it didn’t pop up again here.

The disc opens with ads for Frankenweenie and various TV series on Blu-ray/DVD. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for The Avengers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Castle and more ABC TV series. No trailer for Manor shows up here.

At no point does Cold Creek Manor attempt to break free from its genre-flick boundaries. Instead, the movie plods along in a very predictable manner and never manages to convey any spark or life that would make it stand out from the crowd. The Blu-ray delivers fairly good picture and audio along with some decent supplements. The Blu-ray provides a nice representation of a forgettable film.

To rate this film, visit the original review of COLD CREEK MANOR

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main