Kiyoshi Kurosawa (how much pressure on a filmmaker is THAT name?!) is a horror heavy-hitter with cult favorites Pulse and The Cure. (maybe they’re just regular favs in Japan. but here, i call them cult) I even liked his strange, meandering Bright Future. So, when I saw that Kurosawa would be returning to the horror fold with Creepy at Fantasia (International Film Fest) 2016, I was pretty stoked to check it out.
Takakura was once a promising detective interested in understanding the criminal mind. After a mishap that resulted from his over-confidence in that understanding, he quit the police force to become a criminal psychology professor. (at least i think that’s what he teaches) His new life as a private citizen brings him and his wife (and their dog) to a new home in the suburbs. (at least i think they live in the ‘burbs) Their new neighbors are none-too-friendly and one in particular is (wait for it…) creepy! Takakura happens to be drawn back into a missing persons “cold case”. The lone survivor claims that her family spent a strange amount of time talking to their strange (creepy!) neighbor in strange ways. Her revelations lead the police to the strange neighbor’s house where they find the missing persons (and then some). When Takakura realizes that his creepy neighbor lives in a cul-de-sac just like the lone survivor’s, he begins to suspect the man of being the culprit. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game that may leave Takakura and his wife’s rotting corpses vacuum sealed in plastic. (that’s how they found the missing persons!)
Creepy is a testament to Kurosawa’s supreme mastery of slow-build suspense. It’s apropos that his latest is called “creepy” because, damn is this movie creepy! The plot is almost predictible, but somehow that adds to the dread. Like Takakura is slowly stepping toward disaster and the viewer can do nothing to warn him. (i mean, we can yell at the screen, but that hasn’t worked for me very often) It heightens the anxiety exponentially. I say ‘almost predictable’ because there are some very surprising (shocking even!) twists in the story that answer some of the questions that arise in the viewer. Namely, the “why would that character do that?” type questions. And characters really do some weird stuff in this film. But not in a Lynchian “There’s sometimes a buggy…” way, but in a much subtler way. (that’s not a disparagement of Mulholland Drive by the way. i’m just giving you a frame of reference) Takakura’s neighbor stands a bit too close; smiles unconvincingly; instantly shifts his disposition; and holds an unnatural sway over people. Those people, in turn behave in bizarre ways around the man, for reasons that aren’t immediately clear to the viewer. That makes for a very creepy (!) viewing experience!
The Final Cut: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Creepy is a slow-build, suspenseful creep-out punctuated with shocking revelations and actions. The title says it all.