“Creep” (2015) MOVIE REVIEW

Finally, Jason Blum has produced a movie I like! Okay, okay: I like a few of his movies. And sure, it’s still a found footage deal, but at least it drops all the overwrought ‘paranormal’ bullstuff.

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By design, ‘found footage’ movies should be stripped down and straight-forward, and a very easy thing to pull off. Camera, people, conflict. Simple! Yet time and time again, producers and directors fudge it up beyond all logic. Unexplained jumps in time, having the camera always pointed in the right spot at the right time (every time!), and perhaps most forehead-smacking of all: music! And I’m not talking about music being played on a radio in the movie, I’m talking about interstitial horn stabs and ominous strings throughout, because how are you going to know the movie is scary unless there’s a big crash of music when something scary happens? Obviously it’s because they’ve created a shoddy, empty product and need to attach all the bells and whistles to distract you the viewer from noticing just how unscary (or uninteresting) their movie is. Thankfully, Creep avoids all of these distractions.

The movie sees Aaron (Patrick Brice, who also wrote and directed the movie), a freelance videographer, answering an online ad where the only information is essentially, “Looking for someone to film for 8 hours, easy work, $1000.” He soon finds himself at a remote cabin with a complete weirdo (er, I mean, creep), Josef, (played by Mark Duplass who also helped write the movie) who claims he’s dying of cancer and is hoping to film a memorial video for his unborn son, à la My Life.  At first, Josef seems like a clingy, desperate, lonely guy — but soon things go south. And that’s all I’m gonna say.

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Now, I’d seen the teaser prior to watching the movie, and I gotta say: I wasn’t into it. And when I started the movie, I was still on the fence. But slowly the movie started to take effect and I found myself deeply immersed. One of the great things about Creep is constant surprises. You never know where it’s going or what’s going to happen. And after finishing the film, I really appreciated the aforementioned vague teaser I’d seen because it didn’t spoil anything. That’s something I miss about the extinct respectful relationship between trailers and movies (and moreso now, viewers and movies): being shocked and surprised — and really enjoying the product, as a result — because it hadn’t been spoiled beforehand. It kept me guessing until the very end, and I can’t say that about a lot of movies.

As I’d mentioned earlier, this movie finally gets ‘found footage’ right, if you’ll even consider it ‘found footage’ (anything with a shaky cam and people addressing the audience directly pretty much constitutes ‘found footage’, right?) No music, only two leads, and (thankfully) no ghosts or paranormal stuff. Since Duplass is the king of “mumblecore” and has already filmed a similar handheld semi-horror flick (mumblegore? Mumblehorr?) Baghead, this movie is perfect for him, and he obviously knows how to handle the role. What I wasn’t expecting, however, is just how truly terrifying Duplass could be.

When I started the movie, there were a few places where I thought “Why doesn’t Aaron just leave?” or “There’s no way Josef would act that way.” But as I kept watching, I started to realize that I knew people like Josef, and I’ve found myself in the Aaron role many times. You’re in a situation you don’t want to be in, but you feel bad for the person you’re with, so you willingly ignore logic just to be a good person, an empathetic person. Even when there are big, red warning signs saying “run, now!”, you go along with it just so you don’t inconvenience that person.

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By the end it had me thinking, “just how many seemingly nice and normal people do I encounter everyday who are completely and utterly unhinged?” It kinda freaked me out. That fact combined with all the handheld camera stuff also got me to thinking about Ricardo López, the dude who stalked Björk. He recorded a lot of home video tapes — essentially video love letters — for the singer. But in the videos (which are incredibly disturbing [and available on Youtube!]), you see López start out as this lonely, desperate, sad guy…and watch him devolve into this dangerous, blood-thirsty lunatic. It’s horrifying. And realizing that, yeah, anyone can come unglued if the paper ain’t sticky enough? That might be scarier than anything else.

Lastly, this is apparently the first in a trilogy of Creep movies. If they end up being half as scary as Creep was, I’ll be a happy camper.

Creep is available on VOD and Netflix Streaming, so watch it now! But leave the lights on!

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