Hello, everyone! I watched two horror movies this week, one that was surprisingly awesome, and one that was not-surprisingly un-awesome. Since I watched the un-awesome one tonight, I’ll review that one first. Here’s the lesson I learned from watching Creep: if you think Mark Duplass would make a bad horror movie, trust your gut. Don’t listen to Reddit. Even they have bad taste.
Synopsis: Tall, hispterish Aaron is hard up for cash, so he decides to accept a filming job for one day at a remote cabin. His employer Josef tells him that he has been diagnosed with cancer and that the video Aaron films will be made into a video diary for Josef’s unborn son. Although Aaron is put off by Josef’s odd mannerisms, he decides to keep the job and proceeds to film Josef’s strange habits. As the day progresses, Aaron learns that Josef is not what he seems and that he wants Aaron to be more than just a cameraman.
There are many problems with this movie, so many that I cannot understand why it has a 96% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. I seriously believe that film critics do not understand horror movies. They can’t tell if something is scary or just weird, like Creep, and they like to label things willy-nilly as an effective horror movie that is “able to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.” I don’t know about you, random film critic, but I was so bored by this movie that I put on French subtitles to have something interesting to look at. That is how far back in my seat I was.
The Aesthetic: I don’t care if your movie is pretty (thought it doesn’t do it any harm), but I absolutely need to find the imagery compelling enough to watch it. Patrick Brice’s Creep is devoid of any interesting imagery. I do not exaggerate. Although the film is set in what I presume to be either upstate New York or Oregon, the low-quality found footage style made the beautiful forest look mundane. Besides the forest, Aaron and Josef spend most of their time in Josef’s rental cabin, which is as dull as cabin’s come. I thought the space was used poorly; there was no element of surprise to the environment. For a horror movie, you want to find out that the house is more than just a house, that there is always something lurking, waiting to be discovered. Josef’s cabin, however, was just that, a cabin. Even worse, while Brice could spice up the bland scenery with visually compelling camera tricks, he does nothing. The camera is always at eye level, or chest level, or once at table level, but nothing more. I mean, I knew that the found footage genre had limits, but come on, Brice, can’t you try to make the screen worth watching?
The Scares: I might as well skip this paragraph because there is nothing worth writing about.The only “scares” consisted of Josef jumping out at Aaron, which happened at least three times throughout the movie. They were as predictable as a regular jump scare, with the added bonus of Josef’s absence from the frame broadcasting the jump scare with as much subtlety as a sudden screeching of violins. There was one slightly suspenseful scene near the end of the movie, where Aaron searches for Josef in a dark alley, but even that didn’t particularly move me, because the visuals were too dark and blurry to be of interest. I wasn’t scared in the slightest throughout the duration of the movie. I wasn’t even uneasy. Creep failed at its most basic purpose: scaring the audience.
The Found Footage Element: Found footage has reached its peak. It’s become uninspired, dull, predictable. It is everything a horror movie shouldn’t be. Besides a few notable entries like The Den and Grave Encounters, which use the technique in a reasonable, exciting way, the genre is toast. So why do crappy movies like Creep keep being made in goddamn found footage?! I get that it’s cheap, but besides that, there is no reason for it. Creep centers around its found footage premise, but it is also hindered by it. Because found footage requires a shred of logic to work, a film can easily be trapped by its own improbability. Paranormal Activity made this work because they gave the family a reason to have a camera: they were monitoring ghosts. But besides Aaron filming Josef for one day, there is no reason for him to have a camera. He carries it with him everywhere, even when things become weird and dangerous, yet he is sane enough to try to drug Josef and escape from him when he senses things are turning south. After the “purpose” of the camera is gone, i.e Aaron is no longer filming Josef, Aaron continues to use the camera, filming his reactions to things when it seems entirely unlike his character. The sense of realism, which is vital to a found footage movie, is pushed so far that it stops making sense and starts looking like a joke.
The Characters: There are two characters in the movie, so it’s necessary that these characters be fully fleshed out. They should leap off of the screen! You can guess where I’m going with this. Creep‘s leads are underwritten sacks of meat that parade around the screen with no charisma or purpose. Josef is crazy, you say? Okay, but why and how? What is his purpose or motivation? What is compelling about him besides the fact that he takes baths in front of strangers and likes to dance in a wolf mask? None of these questions are answered. Brice wants the viewer to accept the blunt characterization and wonder no further. As for Aaron, he’s such a non-entity and a pushover that he’s barely worth mentioning. His only function is to be a lens through which we view Josef. If this hadn’t been a found footage movie, he might not have had a role at all.
Final Consensus: Creep is a movie lacking visually and emotionally. It’s underwritten, tame, and just plain boring. The basis of the story is intriguing, but Brice missed his opportunity to make Creep into anything more than a quick distraction. You’ll be upset that you wasted an hour, but don’t fret. By the time you go to bed, it will already be forgotten.
Sorry this is a negative post. I couldn’t find anything positive to write about this movie, but never fear, I will write a positive, praising post about the movie Last Shift as soon as I get a chance. But don’t wait for me to write a post, go watch it on Netflix now! Go! Go! Go!