The exciting world of freelancing and surfing Craigslist can sometimes lead to some truly unsettling moments; the kind of events that stick with you like the sound of nails on a blackboard or the feeling of being watched. Few horror films can capture this unsettling mood without resorting to some cheap scare tactics, but Creep is not one of those movies.
Released in 2014, Creep is, essentially, a two-hander horror flick about a freelancer that meets with a seriously disturbed man. Even though Aaron spends only one afternoon with Josef, the events he witnesses in that lonesome cabin are enough to change his life forever.
It’s a formula that we’ve seen countless times in horror before, but Creep has enough talent working behind the scenes that it’s more than just another derivative genre film. Director Patrick Brice managed to craft an intimate relationship between Aaron and Josef. Not many directors can take a character who isn’t onscreen for much of the film and make him feel as real as Aaron does here.
Let’s go over some of the notable elements that make Creep one seriously creepy flick you might love to watch.
Creep Is A Comedy For Horror Fans
Mixing elements of comedy and horror is a favourite trick of many novice horror filmmakers. If all else fails to scare the audience, at least you can say that the movie was “more of a comedy than a pure horror flick.” The thing with Creep is that the movie excels at both genres in equal measure most of the time.
While there’s a certain overreliance on jump scares and scary sound cues – most of the Blumhouse productions are, anyways – the film spends a good chunk of its runtime building on the relationship between Aaron and Josef.
One reviewer noted that the movie feels like a horror version of What About Bob? and, frankly? That might be one of the most suitable ways to describe this movie. Director and co-writer Patrick Brice also stars as Aaron, the man behind the camera, while his colleague and co-writer, Mark Duplass, plays Josef, the charismatic psycho.
Creep is full of those uncomfortably awkward moments that might creep you out a bit, but it’s the kind of uneasiness that makes you laugh nervously. If I had to come up with a name for the type of comedy that Creep uses, I guess the best term would be “uncomfortable comedy.” It’s not the same as the cliché awkward jokes you hear in modern animated comedies – mostly because Creep is also a film that gets real dark, real fast.
A Plot To Die For
Creep’s plot begins when Aaron agrees to document a day in the life of Josef, a very eccentric man who lives in a secluded cabin. After being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, Josef decided that he wanted a videographer to capture what a day in his life looks like so he can leave the footage to his unborn son.
That’s where Aaron comes in. As a struggling videographer, he can hardly say no to Josef’s proposal. However, as the man’s behavior turns increasingly scary, Aaron decides that maybe the money isn’t really worth spending a day with a complete lunatic for.
Let’s not get too much into spoiler territory here, because what follows is worth seeing to be believed. Suffice to say that most of what Josef has told Aaron isn’t true, and what’s real is a much more unsettling reality that might mean that Aaron has been snared by one of the deadliest psychos ever to grace the screen.
Being trapped with a lunatic is something that has been explored in some other horror films before. Brice has mentioned that one of his biggest inspirations when crafting the plot of Creep was Stephen King’s Misery – but this movie goes a step further than just the initial feeling of claustrophobia that comes in Stephen King’s classic.
By the end of the film, it feels like Aaron is truly at the mercy of Josef’s whims. This is just another layer in the horror cake that is Creep that makes it such an effective thriller: it deals with a feeling that many of us have had to deal with at some point. The shackles and the secluded shack might be there just to spice the horror atmosphere, but the feeling of being completely under anyone’s demands is something that has happened to anyone who has ever had a job. This goes double for freelance videographers.
The Right Start For A Promising Saga
If there’s one thing that Blumhouse has done right this past decade, that would be turning brilliant indie films into unexpected franchises. Even though it seemed like Creep might have been an overnight sensation that didn’t need any real continuation, in 2017, Creep 2 proved everyone wrong.
With fifty percent of the characters from the first film gone, it would be tough to turn Creep into a series. That’s why Creep 2 goes in a radically new direction – for the most part. When it comes to the basics that made the original film such a hit with horror aficionados, the unnerving charm of Creep has been further refined in this shocking sequel.
According to critics, Creep 2 is an even stronger piece than its predecessor, achieving near-perfect scores on many review-aggregating sites. In essence, the sequel took what the fans loved about the original and then turned it up to eleven. Creep 2 delivers the same unsettling creepiness, but this time around, it does so by appealing to a different audience, offering an insightful look into a generation that thrives on voyeurism.
Talking points like the fascination with the macabre and the obsession for thrilling material for viral content creators are a few of the themes that Creep 2 morbidly explores, culminating in a movie that, like its predecessor, is destined to become a landmark example of this generation’s horror sensibilities.
Looking (Not So) Sharp
Both movies were released on Netflix for an international market, and here’s where we find yet another oddity about the two films: they don’t stand out among their peers in terms of cinematography or even technical achievements.
Much like Paranormal Activity and Man Bites Dog before them, the Creep movies use their seemingly cheap looks to great effect, making the horrors seen on screen feel that much more authentic. It feels like you’re watching something that you shouldn’t be as if you came across these old recordings in an abandoned lot.
The lack of flashy special effects and over-the-top cinematography lends Creep and Creep 2 that feeling of authenticity horror fans have been looking for since the Blair Witch Project reinvigorated the found footage genre all those years ago.
Creep certainly does not reinvent the wheel when it comes to horror tropes – some fans might even have an issue with the movie’s abrupt ending. Still, it manages to do what few horror franchises can anymore: it makes us deeply uncomfortable on a personal level. That might be because everyone knows a Josef in their lives, and, deep down, we all fear that inexplicably unsettling creep.