Gimme Something to Watch: Creep
Creep is not a conventional horror film. There is very little action and practically zero gore. There is no evil imagery, no demons, ghosts, monsters, or mutants. Still, this low-budget, found-footage horror film has garnered critical praise, currently standing at a 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is most certainly worth your time. So how has a horror film with very little horror to it creeped the hell out of critics and fans (Masterlord and I included) alike? Join me after the bump to find out.
The story line for Creep, released internationally through Netflix earlier this year, is about what you’d expect from a movie called Creep. An amateur videographer is contracted to help another man film a home movie in a quaint mountain setting. Things quickly take a turn for the worse, as you’d expect, but likely not quite in the ways you’d imagine. Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass, the film’s writers and only actors, manage to take viewers through a number of riveting twists that maintain tension throughout, and they do so almost entirely through an organic script.
In fact, unlike most modern horror films, Creep forgoes visual stimulation almost entirely in favor of powerful and penetrating dialogue. Brice and Duplass have crafted a pain-staking examination of human interaction, testing multiple scripts and scenarios for each scene to draw out the maximum drama from every word used. The end result is a film built on sublime simplicity; the emphasis is most often placed on the subtlety of word choice, body language, and context, lending gravity and dread to every single line.
This is an absolute necessity for the subject matter. The film is alarming for so perfectly capturing a situation in which any one of us could be caught. Throughout the movie I couldn’t help but think of times that I had found myself in situations where every fiber of my being was screaming at me to run away, and yet I was oddly compelled to stay. Like the unwitting cameraman in the film, Aaron (played by Brice), perhaps I was grounded by own morbid curiosity. Or perhaps it was my animal instincts that drew me towards a potentially dangerous situation.
That gravitational pull towards potential harm in the film is almost entirely centered in the stunning Duplass. His character Josef is overwhelmingly disarming and unnerving, managing to raise red flags during nearly every part of the film while maintaining an air of sincere, almost childish innocence. It’s an alluring and deeply unsettling performance that should earn him all sorts of accolades.
Despite my typical hatred of the genre, I felt the found-footage format worked quite well for the material. It made sense in the context, and the lack of shoehorned gore, weird effects, and pointless jump scares (there are a few, but they fit the plot) significantly worked to create an image that this could happen to anyone, anywhere. Really, that’s the power of Creep. It’s a slow-burning exercise in tension and unease that could truly happen to anyone. I can say little more without giving anything else away, so I’ll leave you with the trailer and my recommendation that you watch this film this coming Halloween season.
So, in conclusion…