September 27, 2015

Creep (2014)


I stumbled across this little number on Netflix Instant Watch yesterday and decided to give it a whirl. It was so uncomfortably weird, and at times so genuinely frightening, that I just kept scratching my head as to why it only had a two-and-a-half star rating. In the end, I gave it three stars, so I guess now I get it. But it was definitely worth watching! Let me explain...

The movie sports only two actors, from beginning to end, which is brilliant. It puts you right into the isolated mind frame of our protagonist, Aaron. There's nobody around to witness or help. It's just you and this colossal weirdo, Josef. 

Mark Duplass as Josef
Patrick Brice as Aaron
The entire thing is shot in found-footage style. If found-footage is done well, I can dig it. But it almost always leaves me with a weird taste in my mouth, asking, "Why did he film himself sleeping? Why would you wake up and film yourself talking about a weird dream you had? Who does that??" I know the point of found-footage is realism, but to me it almost always makes it less real because the actors tend to do things that "real people" wouldn't do. (I'm looking at you, Cloverfield.) But, aside from a few 'seriously, nobody would do that' moments, I didn't mind the found-footage aspect. And in most of the scenes it worked really well.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

Now we're gonna get into the meat of this thing. So, the basic premise is that Aaron is a broke videographer who finds an ad offering $1000 for 8 hours of "discreet" filming. He shows up to Josef's house after accepting the job and Josef if nowhere to be found. See what I'm getting at? Aaron filmed his drive to Josef's house, then filmed himself walking up the steps to the house, calling Josef to see why he's not there, etc. Why would he film all that stuff?? Am I supposed to believe that videographers are so enmeshed in their craft that they literally film everything?

Aaron gives up after a few minutes, and of course, he films himself walking back to his car, getting into the car, sitting in the car, and questioning the whereabouts of Josef. (Again, why??) That's when we get our first jump-scare.


Josef shows up in the window and spooks our hapless videographer. Boom! 

After a chuckle and an awkward introduction, the two begin their adventure together under the guise that Josef is a husband to Angela and a father-to-be, but is dying of a terminal brain tumor and wishes to make a candid, warts-and-all video about himself for his unborn child, whom he refers to simply as "buddy."

The uncomfortable weirdness gets going pretty quickly as Josef leads Aaron to the bathroom and begins to disrobe.


Then Josef climbs into a candle-lit bathtub and proceeds to dunk, bathe, and play with an invisible baby in a ritual he refers to as "tubby," claiming that his own father played tubby with him and he is sad he won't be able to do tubby with Buddy. Did you follow that?


Here we see Josef lovingly stroking Buddy's head.
Another jump-scare hits us when Aaron finds a wolf mask in a closet. Josef tells him, "That's just Peach Fuzz." Then he puts it on and sings a bizarre, clearly made up on the fly, song, claiming that his father used to don Peach Fuzz and sing this song to him. 

A parody poster of Peach Fuzz, found in a dark corner of the interwebs.
The filming requests become more and more strange. And Josef gets weirder and weirder, as expected. He refers to Aaron as his friend and forces him into a couple of strange male-bonding rituals, which Aaron is obviously uncomfortable with, but wants to be nice about. We've all been there, am I right?


At the end of the filming day, Aaron wants to leave, but Josef has hidden his keys and talks him into staying the night in the interest of safety, as Aaron has had a couple of drinks. In an uncharacteristic, and out-of-left-field plot device, Aaron drugs Josef with some sleeping powder in his booze and then steals his phone. When it rings, Aaron answers it and speaks with Angela, thinking she is Josef's wife. Angela quickly corrects him, informing him that she is Josef's sister and that Aaron should leave the house as quickly as possible because her brother "has problems."

When Aaron tries to leave, he finds this...


It's ol' Peach Fuzz again, grinding his ass on the door to freedom. This leads to a scuffle, which we surprisingly don't see. I mean, we see everything else, so why not this?

The next scene is Aaron back at his home, lamenting to the camera that he has received a disturbing video in the mail from Josef, which features Josef digging a hole and lugging bags of who-knows-what up a hill. 


Aaron continues to receive weird things in the mail from Josef, including a knife, a wolf doll, more videos, and a locket featuring both of their photos and has "J+A Forever" engraved on the back. 


Aaron attempts to report the goings-on to police, who pooh-pooh him over the phone, then he tosses the gifts in the garbage.

Another video follows. It's Josef holding up the trashed locket and one of the videos. He makes an impassioned plea for Aaron to meet him at a public lake so he can explain himself and apologize. Like an effing idiot, Aaron goes! I was like, "Whyyyyyyyyy, dumb ass? "

Aaron films the encounter, of course, which ends with him getting snuck up on and axed in the head by a Peach Fuzz-sporting Josef. I'll admit, the scene was tense and very well done. 

Then we cut to Josef, who is now in possession of Aaron's camera. He talks to the camera as he watches the footage of him killing Aaron and he comes to the realization that Aaron must have really been a nice guy to show up to the lake like that. Then he walks to a closet and places the footage onto a shelf that is rife with dozens of VHS and video discs featuring men's names on them. 

Just before the credits roll, we overhear Josef on the phone, talking to a new videographer who is answering his ad.  


Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It was great at creating tension and had some nice jump-scares. It's a bit draggy in places, and some of the stuff getting filmed just seemed a little over-the-top. Aaron literally films himself sleeping. Why?? But, if you have Netflix and 80 minutes to kill, go for it. There's no gore whatsoever, and there are some genuinely scary turns that make it worthwhile.

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