“Creep” is a low-budget horror film directed by Patrick Brice, who also wrote the story with Mark Duplass, one brother of the duo Jay and Mark Duplass (“Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” 2011).
While “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” was a funny film that used well-known actors like Susan Sarandon, Jason Segel and Ed Helms and seemed to have a budget of some substance, “Creep” most resembled “The Blair Witch Project” in terms of its herky-jerky hand-held camera work and what had to have been a spectacularly low budget.
The film begins with an online offer made to a cash-strapped filmmaker on March 21,2012 to come to a remote cabin for a day’s filming. The pay will be $1,000 for the day. Filmmaker Aaron Franklin (played by co-writer/director Patrick Brice) is also told: “Discretion is appreciated” (whatever that means).
It is telling that the duo of Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass both wrote the story, directed the story and played the two leads. In that respect, it reminded me of “The Editor” from Canada, another schlocky horror film where the director was listed performing nearly every duty from wardrobe to star. A two-person cast, think “The Babadook,” can make a successfully spooky psychological thriller on a low budget, but this isn’t it.
Jay Duplass did not have a big role in Mark Duplass’ project this time out, as he is busy filming television’s new drama “Transparent,” among other projects.
Upon reaching the cabin in the woods (wink, wink, as the write-up says) Aaron meets Josef (portrayed by Director/Writer/Actor Mark Duplass) who seems sincere when he tells Aaron that he is dying of cancer and wants to make a tape for his unborn child, much like Michael Keaton did in the movie “My Life.” However, shortly after explaining that this was why he summoned the filmmaker, Josef suggests that they adjourn to the bathroom, where Duplass’ character (Josef) proceeds to take off his clothes and get in the bathtub for what he terms “a tubby.” The audience tittered— who wouldn’t?
When Aaron seems surprised and tentative, Josef (Duplass) says, “This is a journey into the heart. We’re going to go a lot deeper places than this.”
Well, yes and no.
Besides periodically donning a wolf’s head mask which Josef has dubbed Peach Fuzz and intentionally trying to startle the filmmaker at every turn (“I’ve got a weird sense of humor, man.”) the pronouncements that Josef makes (“Death. It’s coming. There’s nothing that we can do.” “I love wolves. A wolf loves other wolves and, yeah, it occasionally murders things.”) make him seem like a loon, which the audience realizes immediately. Aaron, however, is not as quick a study. The smattering of tittering continued throughout the film; if straight psychological tension like the excellent film “The Babadook” was the goal, the film missed its mark.
After (finally) managing to break free of his client and return home, a series of CDs and messages are sent to Aaron by Josef and Aaron is so alarmed by them that he calls the police, telling them he is being stalked by a man who is “really weird and super creepy.”
The police, of course, are about as effective as usual, which means not at all interested in Aaron’s tale of an unknown harasser (Aaron never bothers to learn Josef’s last name!) who, as it turns out, did not own the cabin in the woods at all, but only rented it.
One line near the end of the film (Josef to Aaron) is: “It just seemed dumb that you would just sit there and not look behind you.”
My opinion? It just seemed dumb, period.