Creep (2014) ReviewJoe Shaffer
Sometimes, buckets of blood and cheap scares aren't all a horror movie needs. After all, there are only so many times a director can startle his audience whilst rehashing familiar death scenes before viewers glance at their watches or browse mobile Facebook. In these cases, you might require a more subtle creep-out flick with an engaging, character-driven story comprised of unsettling material rather than outright frights. I'd usually recommend Psycho and call it a day, but director Patrick Brice's offering Creep compliments the aforementioned movie well enough that the two probably should be seen together.
Creep, as you can imagine, is not an "assault on the senses" kind of flick. It starts with a cameraman named Aaron (played by the director himself) answering a Craigslist ad put out by one Josef (Mark Duplass), who claims to be dying of cancer while his wife is with child. Josef hires Aaron to film him so that his son can see him after he expires, but Aaron works out that Josef's proposed backstory isn't adding up. Worse, Josef seems to have a terrible--and possibly dangerous--obsession with Aaron.
What makes Creep such a dark delight is Mark Duplass's protrayal of Josef. Duplass doesn't take the stereotypical crazy route. He seems pretty mild mannered throughout most of the movie, and perhaps even wholesome in a cringeworthy sort of way. As the truth about Josef comes to light, his wholesomeness comes off as fraudulent and quite disturbing. You get the sensation that not only is this guy a master manipulator, but that the he has no moral compass whatsoever. This is why he can seem so cool and down to earth, but have no problem stalking and entering someone's home so he can watch them sleep.
There are all manner of red flags in Duplass's mannerisms that you may not catch or think about immediately. Josef's love for inappropriately timed pranks or his touchy-feely nature come to mind... Half the fun of the movie learning to pay attention and identify all of the oddball things he does.
I'm not sure how much of the script is written on the spot (it is found-footage, after all), but if Duplass is ad-libbing, he's very good at concocting lies. Case in point: the origins behind a werewolf mask Josef keeps named "Peachfuzz." He first explains that he's owned Peachfuzz since childhood, then later relates a terrible story involving internet porn and his wife. Josef's subsequent mid-sleep ramblings lead you to believe there's more to the Peachfuzz mask than he's letting on--oh, so much more. The worst, however, is seeing Duplass don the mask and practically transform into a different character. That alone might cause you to wonder about the werewolf's reasons for being a part of Josef's life.
I'm not going to underscore Brice for his handy work in this film, either. Not only does he shoot the picture wonderfully, but his work as Aaron is laudable. Granted, Aaron is overshadowed a bit by the madness that is Josef, which is understandable. However, I don't think the tale would be as enchanting if Aaron were a little savvier, not so passive-aggressive, less outwardly kind, and perhaps less inwardly judgmental or withdrawn. Bear in mind that the movie's title doesn't necessarily apply only to Josef. In the end, we see Aaron's true nature and realize it was necessary to cast his character in such a light, or else the movie wouldn't have been quite a creepy.
I will admit that I'm a bit hesitant to check out Creep 2, as it is in the works. I feel like a movie like this can only work once, and any further additions would be unnecessary or would over-explain the somewhat ambiguous motives of the antagonist. For now, let's just appreciate Creep for what it is: a wonderful slow-burn thriller that brilliantly builds to a nasty climax.
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