Cold Creek Manor features Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone as the Tilson’s, a New York city family with two children. Upon realizing their lives are falling apart in the big city, the family moves to the country and buys Cold Creek Manor, a house with a history in a town with a serious chip on its shoulder. Soon after moving into their home, the Tilsons meet Dale, the previous owner of the house, who’s recently been sprung from jail. This film has it all - snakes, violence, sex appeal, mystery, creepy townies, awkwardness and suspense. It also has bad acting and its writing struggles. This film was a mixed bag for me - it was good, but could have been better. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I wish it had a bit more oomph.
The biggest problem with this film is the acting. Dennis Quaid does not a horror film star make, and I struggled throughout the entire film to believe anything he was saying or doing. Sharon Stone didn’t pull her weight either, leaving the audience without a core group of characters to believe in. Kristen Stewart, playing their daughter, overacted everything, which took away some of the scare as well. A horror film relies significantly upon its acting. Even in the face of unbelievable situations and circumstances, the audience needs to believe it, and that’s often where acting comes in. Lucky for Quaid and Stone, the creepy townies provided enough great acting to keep the film afloat.
Juliette Lewis, playing a bartender and the often-abused girlfriend of Dale, rocked her supporting role and was extremely interesting to watch. And of course, Dale, played by Stephen Dorff, was incredible. With each passing moment, his character made me more and more uncomfortable and his story unfolded very nicely. It was riveting to watch him spiral out of control and the film kept you guessing as to his involvment in certain parts of the plot. While I didn’t believe in either of the Tilsons, I believed in him, right until the bloody end.
Overall, this film was entertaining but didn’t try hard enough to be amazing. It did keep me uncomfortable and creeped out for most of the film, so mission accomplished there. Scenes featuring snakes and dead horses were fun and jumpy and the ending was both gross and eventful. I don’t regret my time spent at Cold Creek Manor, I simply wanted more. I think a quick recast of the film’s stars would have done wonders and bumped this film up a couple of notches. Cold Creek Manor doesn’t bring much to the serial killer population of horror island, but it doesn’t sink it either.
If you liked Cold Creek Manor, you might also like Silent House, House at the End of the Street and Psycho.