Cold Creek Manor is a 2003 horror[a] thriller film directed by Mike Figgis, and starring Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Stewart and Christopher Plummer. The screenplay by Richard Jefferies tells the story of a family terrorized by the former owner of the rural estate they bought in foreclosure.

Cold Creek Manor
Cold creek manor.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Figgis
Produced by
  • Mike Figgis
  • Annie Stewart
Written byRichard Jefferies
Music byMike Figgis
CinematographyDeclan Quinn
Edited byDylan Tichenor
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • September 19, 2003 (2003-09-19)
Running time
118 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
Box office$29.1 million[1]


Documentary film maker Cooper Tilson and his wife Leah find life in New York City unbearable. They and their children, Kristen and Jesse, move to a decaying mansion that, unknown to them, is haunted by spirits. The couple befriend local tavern owners Ray and Ellen Pinski, and their daughter, Stephanie. As Cooper sorts through the many old documents and photographs scattered throughout the house, he commits to recording the history on film.

Renovating the decrepit house into a dream home turns into a nightmare for the Tilsons after previous owner, Dale Massie, convinces Cooper to hire him to help with the repairs. Dale, recently released from prison, initially proves to be a good worker, but his underlying menace become soon evident and unsettling. A series of terrifying incidents, including Cooper pursued by an unknown car, venomous snakes suddenly appearing, and the family's horse being killed, leads the Tilsons to research the estate's dark past. To glean details about its history, Cooper visits Dale's aging and slightly demented father who lives in a nursing home. The man's disjointed comments lead Cooper to believe Dale murdered his wife and children, who have been missing for several years; Dale claims she fled with their children when he was imprisoned for his hit-and-run accident. Sheriff Annie Ferguson, sister of Dale's battered, slatternly girlfriend, Ruby, is initially skeptical about Dale's guilt, but slowly believes Cooper may be correct. One afternoon, after a heated argument with Dale at the diner, Cooper finds a dental retainer along with human teeth in the gravel of the driveway; comparing it to photos, he finds it matches that of Dale's daughter.

Afraid for his family's safety, Cooper sends them back to stay in the city while he attempts to gather more evidence on the 1,200-acre (490 ha) property to incriminate Dale. Meanwhile, Dale visits his father in the nursing home, and smothers him to death when he insults him and reveals his knowledge of Dale's crimes. As a storm approaches that night, Leah returns to the house alone, having been informed by the children the location of a deep well on the property, called the Devil's Throat. Using a video camera they lower into the well, Cooper and Leah find the rotting corpses of Dale's wife and children.

Using a walkie talkie, Cooper contacts Sheriff Ferguson, unaware Dale has attacked and disabled her. He punctures Cooper's truck tires and burns Leah's car to prevent their escape. Cooper and Leah find themselves trapped in the house as Dale disables the electricity, leaving them to rely on their wits and physical prowess. Dale corners Cooper and Leah atop the roof. Now raving mad, Dale openly declares his intent to kill them and dump their bodies down the Devil's Throat like he did his family. The couple charge him with a line of rope, knocking him off his feet, then bind him against a roof lantern. Cooper shatters the skylight, sending Dale to his death.

Dale's wife and children's remains are recovered and then entombed in the family graveyard at Cold Creek Manor, their spirits finding the peace they desired.



The film was shot on location in Cambridge, Kitchener, Ayr, and Toronto, Ontario.


Critical responseEdit

The movie received negative reviews from critics. It holds a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 111 reviews.[5]

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."[6]

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."[7]

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."[8]

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."[9]

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."[10]

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."[11]

Box officeEdit

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 United States and $7,733,423 in foreign markets, for a total worldwide box office of $29,119,434.[1]

Home mediaEdit

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. A Blu-ray edition was released September 4, 2012.[12]


  1. ^ Numerous sources classify Cold Creek Manor as a horror film, including the British Film Institute[2] and multiple news outlets.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c "Cold Creek Manor (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  2. ^ "Cold Creek Manor". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on February 5, 2020.
  3. ^ Lemire, Christy (September 17, 2003). "'Creek Manor' will leave you cold". Archived from the original on February 5, 2020.
  4. ^ Boyar, Jay (September 19, 2003). "MOVIE REVIEW 'Cold Creek Manor' is beyond fixing up". New Haven Register. New Haven, Connecticut. Archived from the original on February 5, 2020.
  5. ^ "Cold Creek Manor (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  6. ^ The New York Times review
  7. ^ Chicago Sun-Times review
  8. ^ San Francisco Chronicle review
  9. ^ Rolling Stone review
  10. ^ St. Petersburg Times review
  11. ^ Variety review
  12. ^ "Cold Creek Manor Blu-ray". Archived from the original on February 5, 2020.

External linksEdit