I’m not entirely sure if I liked the movie Creep (2014). I didn’t hate it, at least, that’s a definite. That probably doesn’t sound very reassuring, however.
This found footage horror movie has an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score for the genre—92%! This is also impressive when one realizes that this film has a whopping two actors in it, plus a voice over the phone, if you want to count that. So here we have a found footage movie with two actors and tons of dialogue. Horror movies usually don’t go over well with critics, so what’s the deal here?
Well, this movie is probably the least “horrific” found footage that I’ve watched. The whole thing is more similar to the movie Exhibit A—both are arguably not horror movies, though I personally say that they are—but Exhibit A only gets a 52% on Rotten Tomatoes, a pretty big difference. I would say that Creep is more of a horror movie than Exhibit A, even. Why is one more successful than the other, then? They’re both unsettling movies told with handhelds and limited actors. They’re both about disturbed individuals.
I think it ends up coming down to the endings here. The biggest strong-point of the film Creep—so big that many probably forgive it of its weakness because of this—is its ending. The ending contains an incredible scene, both horrific and hilarious. The whole movie is a black comedy, but funny in a bleak, morbid, awkward way. All of this awkward humor and nervous laughter adds up to a great conclusion that sort of turns everything on its head and pokes fun at itself. That’s something Exhibit A definitely lacks, with its seriousness and hit or miss ending, even though the whole situation is far more believable. Endings are pretty important, and most horror films, honestly, don’t have very great endings. A good ending can make a lot of difference with the reviews. And it’s not even the most original ending; it’s pretty predictable. But the execution of the whole thing, and Mark Duplass’s acting in the role of Josef really makes it far more entertaining than it would have been otherwise.
And that’s the positive part of this review. Now, let’s get a bit more critical.
Creep is technically a mumblegore movie, a genre I wasn’t really familiar with until recently. Honestly, it all just seems synonymous with cheap, and to get literal, yes, there is indeed mumbling. The audio was poor enough that I had to put on sub-titles to understand what the characters were saying. As for the gore, there really isn’t any here. I don’t think there is a drop of blood in this movie, actually.
What there is a lot of is jump scares. And I mean a lot—of the same variety, from the same source, and incredibly cheap. Literally the equivalent of jumping out from behind a corner and going, “BAH!” The jumps are so bad and cheesy that I can imagine it would draw a lot of people out of this movie immediately (so the 92% on Rotten Tomatoes…?). Really, these cheap scares end up having a lot to do with the psychology behind Josef’s character, so when you look back at them they are actually more complex than they initially appear, but that still doesn’t make them good.
At first, it’s pretty easy to suspend your disbelief with the plot. Aaron is hired from a Craigslist ad by a man named Josef, who is dying of cancer and whose wife is pregnant, so he wants someone to record his life for a little while to make a little movie for his son, so one day his son can see the kind of man he was. Okay, I buy it. Right off the bat, Josef seems a little weird, and that gradually builds up until the inevitable happens and you find out what you already knew, really—that he’s batshit crazy. As this craziness progresses, the film loses a lot of it’s believability. This is covered up somewhat by humor, and eventually lampshaded completely. It doesn’t make sense that Aaron wouldn’t contact someone and let them know where he is and what he’s doing. He waits way too long to call the cops, and by the time he does call the cops they don’t take him seriously or do anything. But of course, in reality, he would have gone to the police station and actually given them the footage. But whatever. It’s a movie, blah blah blah. If it wasn’t for the well-done lampshading scene at the end, I probably would have thrown my hands up and written off the whole thing, so the director clearly knew what he was doing by adding that in.
The movie is very different from others of its kind. It’s a slow-burner and the what the fuck level is very high, but its honestly funny in such an uncomfortable way. It’s definitely not a good movie, but I would say it’s worth watching, as long as you’re prepared to see a black, awkward, disheartening comedy and not a typical horror movie.
When it comes to the disturbing factor—because of course, I’m a horror fan, I want to be disturbed—I suggest you would be better off watching Exhibit A. Or you could just watch both! Have a creepy hand-held camera back-to-back movie night. Hell, I’d attend. If you do end up doing this, of course, please let me know, as I would love to hear someone else’s input on this.
Creep can currently be found on Netflix.