Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 18 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for brief Violence and Language
Directed by: Patrick Brice
Written by: Patrick Brice & Mark Duplass
Starring: Patrick Brice & Mark Duplass
There’s only so much that can be done in found footage. Though there have been recent quality entries in this horror subgenre (the surprisingly better-than-expected UNFRIENDED), it seems like handheld horror flicks are a dime-a-dozen. This is why I turn to film festivals and early word-of-mouth to point me in the direction of which scary found footage flicks I should be keeping an eye out for. I’ve been hearing buzz about CREEP since sometime last year. It played at a few festivals and horror sites were raving about the film. As time goes by, hype raises expectations to unrealistic degrees. I feel that I kept my expectations at a realistic level and find CREEP (now available on iTunes and hitting Netflix in mid-July) to be a decent found footage horror flick. It’s nothing more, nothing less. Far better than most of the competition surrounding it, but definitely has a couple of distracting problems.
Aaron, a videographer, has recently answered an ad on Craigslist. It’s a small gig that promises $1,000 for simply filming a day in the life of one man. The man is Josef. The reason that Josef placed the ad is because he’s terminally ill and wants to make a video diary for his unborn son. It’s a heartwarming idea that goes from sweet to creepy in a ridiculously short span of time. You see, Josef might not be mentally well. You could blame the brain tumor in his skull or you could say that he’s a possible lunatic with ulterior motives. As the day goes on and Aaron becomes unnerved by Josef. Aaron is forced to document oddball antics like Josef’s imaginary bathtub playtime with his unborn son (he calls it a “Tubby”) and Josef wearing a wolf mask (named Peachfuzz) while singing and dancing. Josef attributes his behavior to a wacky sense of humor. Needless to say that Aaron’s simple one-day assignment turns into something very, very bad.
CREEP maintains a solid sense of unease from start to finish. You already sort of know what you’re in for from the get-go with a premise like this. However, the film takes a refreshing simple approach of building dread and watching the characters interactions become more and more uncomfortable with each passing second. The film has two actors and a voice on the phone. That’s it and it works in that simplicity. This isn’t to say that the movie doesn’t suffer from a fair share of found footage/horror clichés. These mostly consist of Aaron being an oblivious jackass in the face of danger (not keeping track of his car keys, talking a bit too loudly on the phone, etc.). The movie also feels like it could have gone a lot further than it did. The basic premise leaves room for a lot of scares. Aside from the sense of unease, the frights come in cheap pop-outs from an obnoxious Josef. Though it feels like a few opportunities to push the envelope were missed, I really enjoyed where the movie went in its final 30 minutes…especially the ending. I wish this portion of the movie was stretched even longer, but it does the trick seeing as this entire film runs under 80 minutes.
CREEP doesn’t necessarily do anything new or remarkable in the found footage genre. We’ve seen this all before in other horror films. However, it all happens to be executed in a competent, fun way. Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass constructed this film between the two of them and it becomes apparent that this was a bit of a passion project between them. Duplass has said in interviews that CREEP is intended to be the first in a trilogy of found footage indies. Though it’s not perfect, the film is simple, to-the-point, and eerie. If they manage to push the boundaries further in sequels, I’m more than up for CREEP 2 & 3. CREEP is recommended for scary movie fans who want a quick handheld horror pick-me-up. If you don’t feel like renting it on iTunes, it will be available on Netflix come July 14.