77 min., 2014
Written by Patrick Brice/Mark Duplass
Directed by Patrick Brice
My rating: ★★★★★
“If he knew the things I did, he couldn’t handle me.
And I choose to keep him protected, oh.
So I creep, yeah, just creepin’ on,
But I’ll know. ‘Cept nobody is supposed to know.
So I creep, yeah, ’cause he doesn’t know what I do,
And no attention goes to show oh.
So I creep.” – TLC, Creep
Mark Duplass is a pretty awesome dude. He’s proven himself to be a fantastic director, sceeenwriter, and producer, as evidenced by his indie comedies, such as Cyrus and Jeff Who Lives at Home, just two of the features co-written, produced, and directed by him and his brother Jay. Not to mention the fact that he’s made a name for himself as an actor, from FXX’s fantasy football bro-sterpiece The League to other indie comedies like Safety Not Guaranteed. He’s even branched out into horror, with one of his latest films being the creepy-as-fuck looking The Lazarus Effect.
Speaking of horror, there’s another entry in the genre he has under his belt: the little-known independent found footage flick Creep.
Duplass portrays Josef, a socially awkward loner who owns a cabin in the remote mountainous forest who enlists the help of a Craigslist ad videographer named Aaron (Patrick Brice, also the film’s director) to film a short video diary for his unborn son before he dies of brain cancer. As we are introduced to this man, we instantly feel sympathy for him, but as Aaron’s camera continues to roll, we see that he’s not simply quirky. There are deep issues bubbling beneath the surface that slowly come to light.
Brice plays the typical jaded yet kinda stupid millennial protagonist in over his head, and he’s someone who probably should be doing background checks on his clients before meeting them in remote cabins in the mountains. Regardless, when shit gets real, we can’t help but feel sorry and scared for the poor sap, but also want to see just how far his life spirals after encountering Josef.
Speaking of Josef: Duplass has always struck me as a fine actor, mostly from his comedic environments in which he typically plays the “straight” man. His role as Josef, however, absolutely floored me. He fits the titular role of a “creep” exceptionally well, from his bizarre confessions to his sole confidant to his blank, glossy eyes and that innocently sinister smile. Yet despite his inherent…well, creepiness, you can’t help but also feel a bit sorry for him. Something within him snapped to turn him into the manipulative, violent person we’re introduced to, and I was sincerely skeeved out BIG-TIME by the film’s end.
The cinematography and editing are both not unlike what you’d get from a well-made found footage movie, but what especially struck me was the genius staging and lighting of certain scenes. The scene in which Josef invites Aaron back into the cabin for a drink before he leaves is particularly chilling, for we see Josef completely blackened in front of his cabin lights, a shadowy spectre warning our poor protagonist of what’s to come. And afterward, every encounter with Josef somehow becomes creepier than the last, popping up in ways and places that could inspire even the most constipated of viewers to collectively shit their pants. The lack of music throughout the movie is especially important, for it creates a genuine, organic sense of fear and paranoia, with only our dark thoughts and predictions as the accompanying soundtrack.
I’ve always been of the opinion that an actor doesn’t need range to be a master at his craft, but it certainly helps, and Mark Duplass proved he definitely has it in spades in this movie. If you want to see a genius filmmaker give arguably the best acting role of his career to date, definitely check Creep out. Just be sure to wash it down with a few of his adventures with Taco and Ruxin on The League so you don’t go completely insane.Have You Read...?