Creep is a found footage film. I thought I should get that out of the way right off the bat. Love it or hate it, it seems like it’s here to stay. I could write a post or three just about found footage – why it’s used, when it’s done right, and how it goes wrong. Or, I could address those issues in a few words – budget, Rec, Creep. Well, saying that Creep “goes wrong” might be a bit harsh. Like many horror fans, I cringe a little when I see a movie is found footage. This betrays my bias I suppose, but I really did make an effort to be open minded. Maybe I failed. Or maybe it’s just not that good. I guess that’s why you’re here though, so let’s get into it.
Aaron (director, Patrick Brice) answers an online ad for a paying videography gig. All he has to do is shoot Josef (Mark Duplass) as he goes about his day spouting life lessons and advice for his unborn son. Josef says he is dying of cancer and wants to recreate the movie My Life. (that’s not a dig, by the way. Josef specifically mentions this.) Josef acts very strangely, but not in an overtly threatening way. So, Aaron drugs him (natch). THEN he learns Josef might be a threat, so he ditches him. Josef then stalks Aaron, sending him weird videos and a knife. His final video is a plea for friendship because he’s lonely and sad. “Meet me at some remote lake so we can be friends.” (paraphrasing) Of course, Aaron does. (why wouldn’t he?)
There are zero surprises or plot twists in Creep. The setup and Josef’s creepiness lead exactly where you expect them to. Is that a spoiler? Probably. But reviewers often mention that a film has a twist, so I feel justified saying this one doesn’t.(when Aaron drugged Josef, I thought there would be. but no. Aaron was just doing something that he could not have done logistically and had no reason to as a normal human being.) Duplass plays Josef well – staring just a beat too long, smiling unconvincingly, generally acting weird – and Brice is fine as the naive regular guy. But, the POV/found footage conceit is stretched very thin. Aaron records himself waking up after a weird dream, finding a DVD, watching TV, etc. Why? Is this part of his video diary? And we find Josef watching the footage at some point. Did he cut it all together to edit out some of the hours Aaron shot? I just had too many questions that took me straight out of the story, which is doubly frustrating considering how weak the story is. After having seen it, the whole film seems like one long setup for one CG shot and a sequel/prequel/scope-of-evil reveal.
THE FINAL CUT: Creep may have worked better as a short. The story is thin and the plot is ramrod straight. Duplass and Brice turn in convincing performances, but their characters lack enough depth to carry a cast-of-two feature-length film.