Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cold Creek Manor (2004)

Reviewed by Jeremy Melton

JM: Get ready to be jealous.
Billy: Alright
JM: (voice shaking with excitement) I just picked up Color of Night for $4.99 and (voice rising in pitch) Cold Creek Manor for $5.99!

Yes, this conversation is a typical one for those of us hard at work at Tower Farm. I will not make excuses or apologize. This is who we are. At least I didn’t call little Billy Hill to talk about sports.

Cold Creek Manor made its way in and out of theaters at breakneck speed in 2004. The DVD for the box quotes Larry King with calling this movie “A Terrific Thriller”. I think someone must have spiked his grape juice. This movie is far from a terrific thriller. It is, however, a terrific mess.

CCM stars Dennis Quaid, who, though not much of an actor, has certainly aged better than his brother or fish-lipped ex-wife. Stephen Dorff also stars. Most importantly, though, this movie features the greatest actress of my grandmother’s generation, the sexy and alluring Sharon “I am a stroke” Stone.

Dennis Quaid plays Cooper Tilson. With a name like that, you are probably thinking he is a news reporter or a hip dance instructor. Unfortunately, Cooper is a documentary filmmaker.

Cooper, his wife, Leah (played by Sharon Stroke), and their two children move to the country in a misguided attempt to leave the dangers of the city behind. Okay, let’s just lay it out there. They move into an abandoned, creepy old mansion.

Oh, and these doting parents buy a pony for their kids. Want to guess where this is going?

Creepy mansion and horses aside, let’s look at their first morning at the place. The boy enters the kitchen and tells his parents that a strange man is in the house going through their things. Cooper confronts the intruder, Dale Massey (Dorff), by introducing his family and inviting him to have breakfast with them.

During this breakfast, it is revealed that Dale used to live in the mansion. I count at least two thinly veiled threats that Dale makes toward the Tilsons. The first time, he says something about a house being a shell and that you live there for a while then things change. The second one has Dale asking the Tilsons, “Do you know what you are getting in to?”. Then Dale mentions that he just got out of jail.

Cooper does the sensible thing and decides to hire Dale to help fix up the place.

Are you effing kidding me?! This is sort of decision making that leads to having your teenage daughter kidnapped, put in a burqa, and led across country by her new “husband”.

Later, a shirtless Dale is strutting around the pool where Leah and her kids are swimming. After leering at the mother and daughter for a bit, he says to Leah, “I don’t think your daughter likes me very much”. She replies, “Oh, sure she does. She is just a bit shy”. He says, “She’s a pretty girl”.

Oh my god.

Anyway, a little later in the movie, this family is attacked by about a two dozen snakes are have been placed all over the house. Dale, of course, saves the day and makes the father look totally impotent in front of his wife and children.

Now, I have spent time in the country. I have only really ever seen a snake in the wild once. Yet, it does not occur to anyone in the house that these snakes were put there by Dale. Well, to be fair, Cooper does figure it out, but his wife and kids think he is nuts. I think that Cooper’s wife and kids should be tested for learning disabilities. Oh hell, I think Cooper should be tested, too.

Shortly after this, Cooper has his great lightbulb moment.

Let me set the stage.

A young JM is sitting in the movie theater at a midnight showing of this movie. JM is has brought a date who keeps falling asleep during the show. He offers several times to leave. But, she does not want to go and is content to nod off on this shoulder.

Now, JM’s offers to leave are not completely selfless. Frankly, he has gotten fed up with the idiocy of the Tilson family and is really getting angry watching these people. Jesus, he thinks, why in the hell did they move there? Why don’t they call the police? Why don’t they just move away?

JM watches in the darkness as Cooper Tilson strolls down his gravel driveway and makes a surprising discovery. Eagle Eye Tilson somehow spots an old retainer mixed in the gravel. You know, the kind of retainer that kids wear because their teeth are too straight for braces and too crooked to be attractive.

He takes this retainer up to his office where he examines it through some sort of weirdo magnifying glass. He takes a tooth he also found in the driveway and lines it up with the retainer…

Then someone in the theater yelled out, “My god! It fits!”.

It was hysterical.

Whoever that person was, I want to offer him a job at Tower Farm. Obviously, we can’t afford to pay you anything.

I have watched this scene several times now. Honestly, I have know idea how in the hell this guy found that retainer. It is underneath the gravel on the driveway. No one could have seen it. No way.

Cooper then tells his wife to take the kids and leave. He needs to stay behind and investigate to find more evidence.


As you might expect, Leah shows back up (without the kids) and the Tilsons face off against Dale. Then the movie ends, like three times. Every time I thought the credits were going to start rolling, the movie just kept going.

There is one character that fans of this movie (should they exist) will be surprised that I left out of this review. It is Ruby, played by Juliette Lewis. Juliette plays this character exactly as she plays every character. There is no reason her to be in this movie. Every scene with her grinds this thing to a halt.

I am going to have to give this winner a solid three fingers, which is fitting because I would like to give one finger to each of the main characters.


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