By Court Jarrell
Ugh. Another low-budget, found-footage horror flick. Haven’t we dredged the bottom of this well enough? Apparently not. While it’s not for everyone (found-footage, that is), Creep is something special.
I found it through MovieWeb on a list of some recently released, actually good horror movies. The Babadook, It Follows, and even the very silly Unfriended (which was surprisingly effective) set a reasonably high bar for horror this year. Is Creep a horror film? Maybe. It could also be a psychological thriller, or even a comedy.
It doesn’t matter how you classify it, though. I love it.
If you’re absolutely done with found-footage, this movie won’t necessarily change your mind—but as tiresome as the formula has become, it manages to actually feel refreshing here, and even adds to the atmosphere. This is mostly because the found-footage style actually means something to the plot of Creep. Additionally, it’s really organic. The filmmaker isn’t cheating. Everything is actually shot by the two (and only) actors.
Yes, just two characters. It’s a bottle movie, which allows the story to remain focused. The basic premise is: Videographer Aaron (Patrick Brice) answers a Craigslist ad from Josef (Mark Duplass), a man with terminal brain cancer, who is looking for someone to film him for 8 hours so as to provide his unborn son with some footage of his dad.
As soon as Aaron (and we, the audience) meet Josef, something is clearly off. He seemingly has no respect for personal space, and overshares a lot of personal information. After an awkward introduction between the two characters, things begin to get very uncomfortable. Josef immediately invites Aaron upstairs, strips and gets into the bathtub, simulating “tubby time”—imagining what it would be like to bathe his infant son.
Josef provides us with some jump scares throughout the film, but they don’t feel cheap or manufactured. They actually work within the narrative, and are played more for laughs. Duplass is sensational in this role. He manages to make Josef sympathetic; endearing, even—while remaining rather terrifying.
Patrick Brice (The Overnight), directs the script written by himself and Duplass. I use the words “script” and “written” loosely, though, as most of the dialogue is improvised by the actors based on a ten-page outline. It’s mumblecore, after all.
Brice is perfectly adequate as Aaron, but his performance pales in comparison to Duplass’s turn as Josef. It’s fair, though, as he has significantly less screen time, spending the majority of the movie behind the camera.
About halfway through, the film slows its pace. I thought the movie was ending, but when I checked, I saw there was still 30 minutes left to go. It does pick back up again a short while later, and becomes very intense very quickly.
When I watch horror movies, I get freaked out (as anyone should), but I rarely ever have trouble sleeping. This, however, is a film that stuck with me. It took me a solid week to shake off the ending. There’s no blood or gore, but I was thoroughly disturbed. And it really all came down to one sound effect. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.
Creep can only boast a couple sequences I’d call genuinely frightening, but it’s an enthralling, darkly funny and deeply unsettling film the entire way through.
You can stream Creep on Netflix, and it’s currently enjoying a limited theatrical run in the U.S.