Editor’s Notes: Creep is currently out on VOD and will have its limited theatrical release starting July 16th.
Never once did I think that 2015 would produce the new indie darling of the found footage genre, but here we are, seeing the release of Patrick Brice’s directorial debut, Creep.
Creep is the all-too-real story of videographer Aaron, played by Brice, who accepts a vague Craigslist ad. In horror, where the worst outcome is always the most common, doing such a thing would generally mark you as the owner of your very own grave within the first thirty minutes. However, even with all of his naïveté, Aaron manages to be a protagonist who exudes competence and vulnerability in equal measure. This competence shines when the startlingly outgoing Josef, played by Mark Duplass, jump-scares his way into frame. He presents Aaron with a simple request, accompanied by money: Film me for the day, whatever I do. The questionable behavior that ensues is darkly funny, perpetually suspenseful, and wouldn’t you know it, creepy.
Darkly funny, perpetually suspenseful, and wouldn’t you know it, creepy.
Somehow, with impeccable skill, Patrick Brice juxtaposes the humorous over the unsettling, creating a hybrid of wonderful sorts. The horror can often be reminiscent of The Dark Knight‘s Joker, because lots of it comes from the fact that Josef’s constantly lying and quickly changing the story he gives Aaron. All of a sudden, in an instant, his character is instantly more unpredictable. In response, Aaron doesn’t instantly bolt, though he should, and looks for ways to leave without arousing suspicion. It’s inconvenient but fear-based actions like these that make Aaron such a resoundingly realistic character, if being the audience’s point of view wasn’t enough. The result is destined to be replicated simply because it’s so bafflingly precise. How a first-time director discovered the black magic needed to pull that off, I’ll never know. In a cave somewhere treacherous, probably.
Somehow, with impeccable skill, Patrick Brice juxtaposes the humorous over the unsettling, creating a hybrid of wonderful sorts.
Even more unbelievable is the humor, which can be found in the massively quotable writing, general absurdity, and again, Josef’s lies. Maybe simply due to Duplass’ performances, every time Josef suddenly and blatantly spouts, “I’m lying,” there’s an awkward silence that caps off such great comedic timing. Aaron could be commenting on the taste of whiskey, and suddenly, Josef’s got another confession to make. And, back to the horror, the evolution the viewer’s mind goes through raises the tension incredibly. We’re laughing, and that laughter trails on even when the humor is removed from the equation. Then, we’re suddenly in an unsettling moment, making the startling realization that we’re in such a moment. This catches us off-guard, and leaves us vulnerable. It’s like Josef, in his fictional state, is manipulating the audience.
There’s also a fantastic performance to be found here in Mark Duplass, who plays an unstable mess of vulnerability and violence as if he actually IS an unstable mess of vulnerability and violence. But he’s not an unstable mess of vulnerability and violence, he’s Mark Duplass, who was undoubtedly top of his class at Cool Guy University. Like always, being Mark Duplass, he brings an indie charm to such a strange individual. Effortlessly, admirably, and in droves.
It’s times like these when, as the found footage genre scrapes the bottom of the proverbial barrel, we need films like Creep to surface. Ones that are new, refreshing, and instill fresh hope for the many more to come.
It's times like these when, as the found footage genre scrapes the bottom of the proverbial barrel, we need films like Creep to surface. Ones that are new, refreshing, and instill fresh hope for the many more to come.