Creep

Rating:

CRAWL SPACE  

Main Cast: Patrick Bice, Mark Duplass

Director: Patrick Bice

Mayhew Blumengroh, the absolutely divine wordsmith who’s helping put together my memoirs for publication later this year, let me know that my life is such a fabulous collection of incidents and celebrity that we’re going to have to publish it in at least two volumes.  Even though I’m still, professionally, only 39 years of age, my career does stretch back to the fifties, and I’ve worked with and know absolutely everyone. 

Carl Reiner PD
Alan, what a darling!

I’ve given him free reign to my extensive scrapbooks and clippings, my somewhat haphazardly filed letters, and he’s unearthed little nuggets that I had completely forgotten.  Who knew that I had a brief affair with Alan Brady back in the days of The Alan Brady Show.  I certainly didn’t remember it at all but there it was in black and white in an old JJ Hunsecker column.

Mayhew is trying to decide how to split the material.  Should we do it chronologically?  Thematically?  Make one volume about my life in film and a second volume about my life in the theater?  Questions, questions, and I’ll let him sort it all out.

I’m doing a photo shoot tomorrow for the cover of a new digital high fashion magazine, Vague.  The editors wanted someone with a timeless beauty who bridged generations and I was almost their first call.  They tried Margo Channing first, but her face is all blotchy from her latest chemical peel and they’re under a tight deadline and couldn’t work around her dermal healing schedule, so I got the gig instead. 

We’re doing a riff on the old Blackglama mink ‘What becomes a legend most?’ campaign but, as fur is now déclassé, I’m going to be entwined with yards of neon pink tulle rather than mink.  We’re doing the shoot at the LA planetarium, and I’ll be very excited to see the proofs. Reva Shayne is going to be behind the camera and her work is simply divine.  She once shot me for Soap Opera Digest when I had a very important story arc as a novice with a ghastly secret on The Young and the Religious and I have been a huge fan ever since.

scotch from unsplash
Just a drop or two…

As I have to be up bright and early tomorrow for hair and makeup, I decided that I needed to find a relatively short and uncomplicated film for viewing this evening.  Not having anything better in mind, I poured myself just a little thimbleful or three of single malt Laphroaig and retired to the home theater where I flipped through the latest offerings on Netflix in the horror genre (they tend to be short). 

I settled on a film called Creep, a title I had not heard of in the past, but which seemed to have reasonable ratings, so I hit the play button and settled back prepared to be scared or grossed out or some such.  I was neither, which was disappointing, but I did actually like the film.

Creep really isn’t a horror film and shouldn’t be labeled as such.  It’s more of a psychological thriller which becomes more and more complex despite a simple premise.  It’s derivative of the found footage genre that became so popular after the huge success of The Blair Witch Project a couple of decades ago but it’s not really that either, although it does consist of film recorded in real time by the actors in a diegetic manner. 

We first meet Aaron (Patrick Brice), a videographer by trade.  He’s talking into his camera as he drives from LA up into the mountains for a gig he found on Craigslist, spending the day creating a diary for a man.  He arrives at the remote cabin to find Josef (Mark Duplass).  Josef tells Aaron he has recurrent metastatic cancer in his brain and, as he and his wife Angela are expecting their first child, he wants to create a video diary for his unborn son whom he may never get to meet (inspired by Michael Keaton’s film My Life from some years ago). 

We see Aaron and Josef’s meeting and getting to know each other through the lens of Aaron’s camera.  Josef is distinctly odd.  We put it down at first to his brain tumor, but as the day progresses there may be something else going on.  By the time Aaron is having trouble leaving as he can’t find his car keys and he talks to the absent Angela on the phone, he realizes that all is not well. 

Aaron returns to his home in the city but is soon receiving mysterious gifts and videos from Josef who is clearly stalking him, and things progress into a cat and mouse game but who is the cat and who the mouse and who is filming whom?

For a two character film with minimal locations, the movie does a good job of holding interest and slowly ratcheting up the tension as it becomes more and more clear that things are not what they appear on the surface.  When there is finally a moment of violence, filmed in extreme long shot to distance us from it (blood and guts are not the point of this film), there’s almost a pedestrian quality to evil which makes it even more disturbing than if it were more in your face. 

The film Creep reminds me the most of is the original Dutch version of The Vanishing where the audience knows all along that something is seriously amiss but the filmmaker’s slow raise of tension throughout makes the climax all the more awful even though nothing is really displayed on the screen. 

Brice (who directed) and Duplass, who are friends, developed the movie through a series of improv conversations between the characters and then shooting sequences in character which they would then show to friends and family for feedback on story beats and development.  When they began the project, they thought that the film would be a sort of black comedy but, as they shot more and more (and there are apparently multiple versions of most of the scenes due to its improvisatory nature), they realized the film was stronger with a thriller through line. 

Usually, improv in film doesn’t work terribly well.  Too many ums and ahs and a feeling of artificiality but the two actors here know their characters well enough to make the sequences play as if scripted.  There are a few times when the whole thing gets a little too clever, like film students saying ‘look what we can do’ in their final projects, but these moments are thankfully relatively short and don’t draw too much attention to themselves.

If you don’t mind spending an hour and a half with a couple of guys engaged in a very odd bro relationship that goes very bad, Creep is worth a peek.

Wolf mask. Long staircase. Chopping block foreshadowing. Tubby time. Hard drinking. Gratuitous full garbage bags. Unhelpful police. Heart shaped pool.  Heart shaped locket. 

To learn more about Mrs. Norman Maine, see our Movie Rewind introduction

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