While singing the praises of this film in an online conversation with a friend earlier, he commented how difficult Creep is to review, because a lot of the enjoyment hinges on knowing as little as possible about the film going into it. While I’m not 100% on board with that sentiment, I understand where he’s coming from, and will sum up the plot as little as possible below.
Bryce stars as Aaron, a videographer responding to a Craigslist for a private filming job. At a remote condo in a secluded forest area, he meets Josef (Duplass), a young father-to-be who diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Inspired by the Michael Keaton film “My Life”* Josef wants to record a day of his life so that his unborn son might get to know him after Josef has long passed away. At least that is the story that Josef presents presents Aaron. As you might have guessed, things take a turn for the delightfully weird.
The beauty of Creepcomes from the chemistry between Duplass and Brice. Chalk this up to the fact that the duo co-developed the story over a year and a half despite it consisting solely of these two men and a trio of locations. The time spent was used to develop their characters to perfection, allowing Creep to present a pair of fleshed out human beings. Duplass in particular is outstanding as the aggressively cheerful Josef. While he comes of as likeable and enthusiastic, Duplass lends Josef enough subtle edge that allows the viewer to understand that the puzzle pieces don’t quite snap into place despite outside appearances. Duplass plays Josef like an overgrown child inhabiting an adult’s body. Brice is equally up to the task as the straight man of the film. At least that’s the rule your led to believe he has at the outset although as it continues it’s easy to see how connected the two men are despite price being a few steps lower on the spectrum. Josef comes off as odd but seemingly harmless until you find yourself lured in past the point of no return.
At its core creep is a story of two lonely individuals that aren’t all that different from one another despite what you are led to believe at the outset. Brice’s Aaron suffers from similar social awkwardness and Josef, it just manifests itself in different ways. Brice’s character proves to be also capable of manipulation, it just occurs in much more overt ways.
Perhaps the best word to sum up Creepis “uncomfortable.” It plays with conventions in subtle ways, doing enough to keep you off balance while a pit of dread continues to gnaw away at your insides. It manages to outpace productions hundreds of times its size in the fun, unnerving and scary departments and given the chance, it just might well be one of your favorite films of the year.
Low budget horror’s greatest strength may be that it allows filmmakers flexibility to play with a tried and true formula and put their own spin on it. In the past 10 years there’s been a rise in what is called the mumblegore genre, an ultra low-budget style of movie making that consists of a small cast, a tendency towards improvisation, and a budget that can be scraped together from the change ones finds in between couch cushions. Granted, just because one can make a movie, that does not mean that one should make a movie, and much of this DIY style of filmmaking is responsible for a ton on unwatchable dreck. However, every now and then you get to discover a true jewel. CREEP, the new Blumhouse production that was conceived by and stars Patrick Brice (who also directs) and Mark Duplass is one such gem.
*This marks the first time in recorded history those words were ever written.