Well, I’m back and at that has to count for at least something. As usual, life got in the way of this silly blog… nothing major, just a mix of weather and work. I actually finished watching this movie nearly two weeks ago… I just haven’t had time to sit down and write. The good news is that I’m planning on having two posts up on two consecutive days, so keep an eye out for my write-up of The Witch tomorrow. But, before we get there, let’s talk about Creep.
The first thing that I will say is that although it’s been nearly two weeks since I watched this movie, it’s been lingering with me. That may not sounds like praise (or damnation), but to me that’s something more important than a simple scare (look for a similar sentiment in tomorrow’s write-up). This is not a great film, possibly not even a good film, but there is something there… something that (at least I think) makes it worth watching.
Creep is a found-footage horror film (and yes, it falls down some of the same holes as most in its sub-genre (I promise not to obsess too much about this later in my write-up (though, I will have a few words to say))) with a straightforward plot (no need to make it complicated): a man (the titular creep (played by Mark Duplass (more on this later)) hires a videographer to come to his vacation home in the hills to film him for a day. He tells our videographer that he has terminal brain cancer (I think… I can’t remember, but I know it’s something terminal) and wants to leave his son a video… but he’s clearly off… a light bit of mayhem ensues.
I’m not sure where to begin… as I stated above, this movie stuck with me… I’ve spent some time trying to process it. It’s not that it’s complicated, or even has a lot to say, it’s just different… very different than most horror movies. I’m guessing that’s because the writers (Patrick Brice (the videographer (also the director of the film)) and Mark Duplass) more often make comedies and light dramas. At times, the movie has more of a comedy-movie sensibility than a horror film. That being said, I would not categorize this as a horror comedy… don’t get me wrong there are definitely some funny moments… though, it’s more funny-weird than funny-ha-ha. The only thing I knew going into this film is that a friend of mine couldn’t make her way through it. In fact, there was a specific scene that caused her to give up. It won’t really give any of the plot away but the scene involves the creep taking a bath in front of the videographer while miming giving his son a bath. She wasn’t upset by the scene, she just found it so stupid that it took her out of the movie to a point where she didn’t think she would be able to make it back in. It didn’t bother me as much as it did my friend, but I can understand her response… it just felt awkward and weird… less in a horror-movie way, more in a single-camera-comedy way. Again, though, not exactly funny. I’ll give one more example and leave it behind. The creators used another comedy troupe: repetition. There is an old rule in comedy that repetition equals comedy (there is a great segment on the radiolab podcast from a few years back that illustrates this: http://www.radiolab.org/story/kristen-schaal-horse/ (definitely worth listening to)). This is the first time I’ve seen is used in a horror film, though. Specifically, there are at least a half-dozen times during the film when the creep either runs ahead of the videographer or goes quickly around a corner and then jumps out and makes him scream. It is the cheapest of jump-scares, but something about the repetition in it works. At first you’re angry about the cheap scare, then you’re frustrated about the repetition, next you’re anticipating it, and finally you’re looking forward to it. It is also a huge set up to the final scene in the film… which, without giving too much away, stuck with me for the rest of the day. That being said, the tag at the end of the film is just a waste.
There’s not too much more for me to say about the movie, though I do want to quickly address the found-footage nature of the movie. First, I’ll start with the bad: not surprisingly there is a scene in the movie in which the videographer is continuing to film, in which, in reality, the camera should have been off or at least facing the floor. That being said, the use of the camera before and after this scene (and all the way to the end of movie) works… and works really well. Another interesting choice is that one of the big reveals of the movie (there are multiple) is done with the video turned off and only the audio recording. First, this makes sense on a logic level. Second, it ups the creepiness-factor (no pun intended). Finally, there is no soundtrack or added sound-effects throughout the movie. To me, this can make or break a found-footage film. It worked extremely well in this movie.
The goal of the filmmakers is to disarm the viewers and keep them wonder if and when things will go horribly wrong for the videographer. I am happy to say that they achieved this goal handily.
See you tomorrow.