Mark Duplass stars as Josef in Patrick Brice’s directorial debut, Creep.
It seems wrong to call Creep a horror film, considering the genre is so closely aligned with bloodshed and gore that the real purpose of the genre – scaring audiences – has nearly been lost. Creep contains less violence and bloodshed than even the most mainstream of CBS sitcoms, but Patrick Brice’s film dispenses with the trimmings of horror films that have come to overtake the main meal so that Creep can achieve its true purpose: to keep the audience continuously frightened.
No genre works better when pared down than horror, and this two-handed piece with the director Brice in one role and the reigning king of low-budget independent films, Mark Duplass, in the other. Brice plays Aaron, a cameraman hired to film a farewell video for Duplass’ character, Josef, who claims to be suffering from a terminal illness. The film uses the found footage style first popularized by The Blair Witch Project, and while that style has definite limitations, Creep nonetheless shows why that style is so effective for horror films in the first place.
What separates Creep from The Blair Witch Project and its successors is the performance by Duplass, who dominates the film as the titular creep. Duplass is so synonymous with independent filmmaking that it seems as if he should be walking the streets of Sundance while sporting ironic facial hair, but his appeal is that Duplass might be the most ordinary man in movies. Even arthouse films often succumb to a need for the unique, eschewing the beauties that dominate mainstream fare for grotesques with exaggerated features. Duplass looks like he could be your accountant or chiropractor, which makes his performance as a man who slowly reveals just how insane he truly is so frightening.
True to Duplass’ reputation, though, Creep contains a significant amount of humor to balance the more tense moments of the film and to keep the audience on edge. Brice does a capable job of shifting from horror to humor and back again, and found the right actor to handle those tonal shifts. This makes Creep into an excellent example of filmmaking done on the cheap. For both the filmmakers and the audience members who purchase tickets, it is money well spent.
The Duplass Brothers/Blumhouse Productions
Now available on iTunes; available to stream on Netflix July 14
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