Blame The Blair Witch Project, and its shaky camera work. But once The Paranormal Activity franchise took off, horror filmmakers increasingly turned to the found-footage format. Between 2010 and 2015, the horror genre churned out dozens of found-footage titles including The Den, Unfriended, and even a Blair Witch sequel/reboot. One of the better found-footage offerings released during this time period was small indie flick, Creep. Blumhouse produced the micro-budgeted thriller out of its subsidiary, Blumhouse Tilt. The Orchard, which falls under Sony Entertain, released the movie to Netflix where horror fans can still find it.
Videographer Aaron drives to a secluded cabin in response to an odd ad for a day’s work. At the cabin, Aaron meets Josef, an eccentric man, who claims to be dying for cancer. Josef wants Aaron to film a ‘day in the life’ to leave behind for his unborn son, ‘Buddy’. Though Josef initially seems odd, Aaron considers him harmless and opts to stick out the job. But as the day goes on, Josef demonstrates increasingly unnerving behaviour. By nighttime, Aaron finds himself alone with man who may be more dangerous then he initially believed.
Creep May Be One of the Scariest Movies This Decade
Creep is a damn scary movie. It’s all the more impressive considering the small nature of the production. No special effects or onscreen gore. No musical score. This is a movie focused on the interactions between two characters. And it absolutely works. At a mere 77 minutes, director Patrick Brice wastes little time in ‘creeping’ out the audience. While there are a few jump scares that get overused, Brice largely relies on psychological tension. He quickly introduces Josef’s idiosyncratic ticks and ratchets things up from odd to unnerving. There’s Josef’s ‘tubbie time’ session that elicits discomfort. But the ante gets increased fast when Josef discloses the true origins of his ‘Peachfuzz’ mask. It’s good horror movie-making when a just a character’s story can send chills up your spine. When Josef blocks Aaron’s exist wearing the mask, Brice dials up the suspense to an almost unbearable level.
Even with such a short runtime, Creep runs into some pacing problems at the movie’s midpoint. Once Aaron is removed from the cabin, Creep slows down a little. That is, Brice loses some of that sustained, unbearable tension that the cabin setting possessed. Fortunately, Creep still finds ways to get under your skin. By and large, Creep avoids over-the-top horror tropes in favour of more subtle approaches to horror. Some horror fans may find the movie’s conclusion to be a little too unlikely. It certainly requires a great deal of stupidity from one character and a lot of good fortune for the titular ‘creep’. Nevertheless, Creep’s ending is in keeping with the movie’s tone – it leaves you feeling unsettled.
Mark Duplass is a Perfect ‘Creep’
Mark Duplass, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Brice, makes Creep work. With such a stripped down movie, Creep isn’t nearly as effective without Duplass. First, Duplass casts aside all the standard Hollywood psychopath tropes. Instead, Duplass opts for a more nuanced approach to the role. Initially, Duplass’ ‘Josef’ is a merely eccentric, uninhibited character who almost seems scatterbrained. When Duplass turns on the more menacing aspects of the character, it’s still a more subtle approach. Josef switches from warm to distant to dangerous at a moment’s notice. And it’s these understated aspects of Duplass’ performance that make Josef one of the scarier horror movie antagonists in years.
With such a stripped down movie, Creep isn’t nearly as effective without Duplass.
Writer and director Patrick Brice also plays the hapless Aaron. Outside of Creep, Brice has no acting experience. Fortunately, Creep doesn’t require much of Aaron other than to play off of Duplass’ ‘Josef’. In this regard, Brice admirably captures an ‘everyman’ response to the madness around him. If Creep has a problem, it’s Aaron’s inexplicable willingness to stick around and keep filming long after the warning signs have escalated. But these are problems with most found-footage movies. And poor character decisions are a hallmark of horror movies.
Creep One of the Better Found-Footage Horror Movies
Just when you thought the found-footage movie was all played out, Creep came along and illustrated how well the approach could still work. Not only does Creep stand out among found-footage horror, it’s arguably one of the better horror movies released this decade. Followed by an equally impressive sequel, rumors are swirling that we may even get Creep 3. Keep your fingers crossed for what may turn out to be one of the better horror franchises in recent memory.