CREEP Review - Revisiting a Found Footage Thriller that Dives into the Horrors of Human Behavior
James Tanner says director Patrick Brice has assembled a surprisingly well-thought and realistic horror film that’s still an exceptional genre entry.
[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND REFERENCES TO SEXUAL ASSAULT]
A scenario like this is why you should never trust anything that comes across Craigslist—too many uncanny features that only bring misfortune and possibly, death. Co-written by Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice, Creep (2014) delivers an appalling and eerie take on the outlandish human behavior and the unstable human dynamic between two inept individuals in Brice’s directorial debut. The film is inspired by My Dinner with Andre (1981).
Creep follows Aaron (Brice), a struggling videographer desperate for money and willing to do anything to get paid, even recording a stranger in the deep parts of the Crestline mountains in an isolated cabin. The person living in the creepy shanty cabin is Josef (Duplass), a man who claims to be dealing with terminal cancer and wants to document a series of videos of himself for his unborn son before he dies. Aaron's job is very straightforward. Videotape every movement of Josef while being attentive to the setup. Aaron is skeptical of Josef’s real motive as his behavior becomes unbearable and extremely strange as the day progresses.
Things become uncomfortably intimate when Aaron films Josef in the tub during "tubby time," where Josef starts imagining himself holding a baby and giving off "goo-goo gaga" vibes. The scene dramatically shifts when Josef starts crying because he's afraid of dying. To make it more uncomfortable, Josef tells Aaron, “why not end it now” as he slips underwater, presumably ending his life only to jump out, to startle Aaron. The film’s title is an understatement. Creep is deeply unsettling. Josef's obsession with scaring the living hell out of Aaron and the realistic feeling that something like this can happen in your life make it extremely horrifying.
One of the more disturbing aspects of Josef is his embracement of Peachfuzz. A creepy wolf mask he keeps in his closet. The story he tells Aaron is that Peachfuzz is a friendly fictional wolf created by Josef's father when he was a child, but that is far from the truth. In one scene, Josef asks Aaron to stop recording and confesses about a gruesome night involving his wife, Angela (Katie Aselton). Josef catches his wife viewing porn, mainly animals, and is devastated. To please Angela's fetish, Josef buys the mask and wears it while sexually assaulting her, leaving her weirdly pleased. The story leaves Aaron shocked and deeply disturbed.
The mask symbolizes the threatening and sinister persona that lives within Josef, similar to the exploration of multiple personalities in Split (2016). Josef uses Peachfuzz to dissociate himself from his most disturbing acts, ultimately leading to Aaron's death. Prior to this, Josef asked Aaron if a little part of him thought Josef would kill him with the axe in front of his house when he saw it to which Aaron replied "yes". That exact weapon is used to murder Aaron in the final act of Creep.
The unquestionable and most remarkable element of the film is the performance of Duplass. He delivers an emotionally impactful performance as a disturbed man who severally lacks social skills. Josef exhibits increasingly uncomfortable and inappropriate behavior that shifts the tone of certain moments to creepy and awkward. Duplass is the film's highlight.
Creep isn't for audiences who despise found footage and don't seek films that deliver on real issues that tackle uncomfortable human behavior. However, Brice takes little to no budget and uses an incredible acting performance to create a thrilling story. Overall, Brice has created a clever all-around horror classic with unexpected twists and turns while providing several jump scares that will keep viewers on the edges of their seats.
CREEP is streaming on Netflix and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.