“I’ve got a weird sense of humor.”
What is this movie building towards? That’s what I asked myself, time and time again, while sitting through Creep, a slog of a should’ve-been-sprite 80 minute film. The storyline is fairly simple; what if things aren’t as they initially appear? We’re meant to question that, yet the manner in which it all unfolds, we quickly realize that things are amiss. While it’s not all that terrible, I’d still call this found footage horror/comedy a failure. That’s because it’s not particularly funny, dramatic, or scary. Creep is a cheap, dull, and broken swiss-army knife. It has all of the functioning parts, except that they don’t work.
Our behind the camera commentator and co-lead is Aaron (Patrick Brice). He responds to a Craigslist ad asking to go up into isolated mountains for $1,000. The ad seems harmless, enough so that Aaron shouldn’t question its authenticity or expect hostility. But when Josef (Mark Duplass), the inhabitant of the home, slams against Aaron’s car window to get the first of 6 jump-scares, it’s clear as day that the man is just off. It’s easy for us to tell, but not so much for Aaron, an apparent pushover and definition of nice-guys finish last loser. That’s a major problem here. Creep tries to subvert genre cliches, and while it’s cliche in and of itself to make this statement, the story almost plays right into the dealer’s hands. After only ten minutes I knew how the film would end. The foreshadowing is overdone to the point that the finale is forgone…that the middle becomes futile. This might as well have been a 20 minute short film.
Most of the feature is spent focused in on Duplass as the duplicitous Josef. That’s the only good part of the movie. Duplass is a creative force to be reckoned with, and his acting, from The Puffy Chair up to now, has only become stronger. He feels real as the affable loner. However, the script by both he and writer/director/star Brice just runs in circles. It often feels as elementary as a mile run fitness test. But it’s often deeply unsettling, and when it is so, the scene feels inorganic to the rest of the story. In particular there is a scene which cuts to black and lets Josef detail a bestiality inspired marital rape story that isn’t funny (how could that be?) or ever scary. It’s just disturbing, and that’s not the tone the film goes for. In fact, I don’t know what the aim was.
Movies like this work better when there is a motive. In Creep, we get a lunatic who camouflages himself as a husband and father dying of inoperable brain cancer. That’s a nice setup, but there is no reasoning behind the lead character’s actions. That doesn’t mean he has to have any. In fact, fright features can be equally unnerving when the person is so gone, so out of touch with reality that their actions are only byproducts of the sociopathic need to be doing something…anything. Creep suggests otherwise throughout its short but fairly detailed narrative. All I got out of it was one extremely troubling image. Besides that, Creep is, like the guy in the trench coat standing on the corner, safe to stay away from.
“I’ve been pretending my whole life.”
Rating: 1.5 out of 5