Director: Patrick Brice
Genre: Found-Footage Horror/Black Comedy
Synopsis: When Aaron, a freelance videographer, responds to an online ad, he meets Josef, a man who claims to have terminal cancer and wants to make a video diary for his unborn son. Aaron soon learns that Josef isn’t telling him the full truth, and things quickly spiral out of his control.
Overview: Creep is not a particularly detailed story. With just two actors — Mark Duplass as Josef and Patrick Brice (who also directs the film) as Aaron — one handheld camera, and a story that moves forward without too many twists and turns, it’s a beautiful example of how sometimes in filmmaking, simplicity is the most powerful tactic. It comes down to Duplass doing his thing on screen and Brice being a smart enough director to realize that Duplass’ skill is all this film needs.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what gives Duplass his undeniable star power. Without question, he carries Creep. Josef is, as the title suggests, incredibly creepy, but what’s more impressive are the times when he’s not — times when Duplass is able to tap into an apparent emotional depth that Aaron responds to. Sure, this guy is strange. He’s unusual in the way he speaks, in what he finds funny, in his general behavior, but perhaps he really just needs a friend. Maybe he’s just lonely, so lonely that he would go to unbelievable lengths to remedy the feeling. It’s a relatable plight, and it’s one that Duplass has been able to harness in many of his past projects. Josef keeps Aaron guessing regarding his true intentions until the film’s final moments, and Duplass keeps viewers asking questions even after the credits begin to roll.
Shot on Aaron’s grainy, shaky handheld camera, the found-footage aspect of the film provides a sense of reality that standard filming might not have awarded. Found-footage movies are tough to get right. Often the technique feels like a gimmick or a cop out, but Creep gets right what so many similar films get wrong: The found-footage technique is central to the story, meaning that it’s always important; it never feels cheap.
Creep is the perfect combination of black comedy and uneasy horror. It is often very funny, thanks to the supremely talented Duplass, but the comedy always comes at a price. It serves not as cool relief to the tension, but as a red-hot stove eye that keeps the tension boiling higher and higher until it’s nearly unbearable. It’s a phenomenal film, and it’s worth watching for Duplass’ performance alone.