Director: Patrick Brice
Genre: Found Footage Horror
Although it’s a refreshing break from the usual jump scare drudgery of found footage, in addition to being Blumhouse’s best film of recent memory (save for UNFRIENDED), CREEP almost entirely squanders it’s extremely promising first half with thirty minutes of the phoned-in narrative laziness we’ve come to expect from modern horror.
Now what’s there to mistrust about a smile like that?
What’s especially disappointing is just how much potential the film exhibits at the start. Atmosphere is immediately established, with the first instance of hackles being raised occurring within the first three minutes as Aaron stares at Josef’s door. Josef is the rare horror antagonist who manages to be sympathetic; although his behavior is undeniably bizarre and vaguely unsettling, we can sympathize with him due to the sob story involving cancer and an unborn child that he spins. The film succeeds the most notably when Josef’s actions do double duty as both frightening and endearing (the “tubby” scene, the initial Peachfuzz song, etc.). In fact, CREEP is one of the few found footage films where the protagonist feels sufficiently “locked in” to their predicament. While virtually everyone would find Josef’s behavior uncomfortable, a large portion of the population would acquiesce to his begging and pleading for company, much as Aaron does, due to how fundamentally pathetic he is.
Admittedly, the wolf mask doesn’t make much of a case in his favor
This is another thing that CREEP initially does well; by balancing scenes such as Josef’s disturbing wolf rape monologue (a top contender for the highlight of the film) with moments of genuine tenderness between the two leads (the Heart Stone scene, the “bro-y” whiskey drinking), the audience can almost believe in a world where these two would actually be close. However, we soon discover it’s too good to be true. Although Aaron’s phone call with Angela is disturbing, and Josef’s disappearance from the fireplace mantle is the first moment where we feel alarming, palpable dread, the film never manages to build its chilling atmosphere into a devastating finale, instead opting for a conclusion consisting of recycled tropes that we’ve seen ad nauseum. Aaron’s actions are still somewhat believable, but the loss of wind from the sails is exceptionally noticeable. The most interesting element that the film hints at is Aaron’s possible burgeoning attraction and obsession with Josef himself, and it’s a shame that this wasn’t teased out more. CREEP could have been something great, but instead is something that’s just OK, and that’s the saddest fact of them all.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend