Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cold Creek Manor (2003)

Cold Creek Manor is a 2003 American/Canadian psychological thriller film directed by Mike Figgis. The screenplay by Richard Jefferies focuses on a family terrorized by the former owner of the rural estate they bought in foreclosure.


When documentary filmmaker Cooper Tilson and his business executive wife Leah decide life in New York City has become more than they can bear, they and their children Kristen (Kristen Stewart) and Jesse move into a decaying mansion filled with the possessions of the previous family. They befriend local tavern owners Ray and Ellen Pinski and their daughter Stephanie, who help them purchase a horse. As Cooper begins to sort through the many documents and family photographs scattered throughout the house, he decides to commit its history to film.

Converting the dilapidated building into their dream house becomes a living nightmare for the Tilsons when previous owner Dale Massie, an uncouth redneck recently released from prison, shows up and pressures Cooper into hiring him to help with the renovations. While he initially proves to be a good worker, the underlying sense of menace he projects is unsettling. A series of terrifying incidents lead the Tilsons to research the estate's dark and lurid past. Hoping to glean some details about its history, Cooper covertly visits Dale's aging and slightly demented father in the nursing home where he is living. Seemingly disjointed comments made by the elderly man lead Cooper to believe Dale murdered his wife and children, and he begins to search his 1,200-acre property for their remains. Sheriff Annie Ferguson, sister of Dale's battered, slatternly girlfriend Ruby, is skeptical about Dale's guilt, but slowly comes to realize Cooper may be right.

Cooper's suspicions are confirmed when he and Leah discover three skeletons in Devil's Throat, a deep well, hidden in the woods. Using the walkie talkie she gave him, he contacts Sheriff Ferguson, unaware she has been attacked and disabled by Dale, who punctures the tires on Cooper's truck and sets Leah's car on fire to prevent them from escaping. Trapping them in the house in the middle of a storm that has knocked out the electricity, he forces them to rely on their wits and physical prowess to save themselves.


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