Creep (2014)Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 08/31/14 16:34:56
SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: My only issues with "Creep" have nothing whatsoever to do with the movie itself. First, there's the generic title - it's only been ten years since the movie by that name with Franka Potente - and word that two sequels are already planned. I don't know how that works. But look at the movie itself, and it's a work of minimalist near-perfection, tremendously funny and with just enough edge to be a legitimate thriller.It starts with Aaron (Patrick Brice) telling his camera that he's been hired for a bit of video work, and while it's kind of weird, a job's a job. This one involves following Josef (Mark Duplass) for a day, as he is dying of a brain tumor and wants to leave a testimonial for his unborn son. And while Josef seems very friendly, he's also, to put it mildly, eccentric.
It is a dead-simple premise; Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass have come up with a good reason for a found-footage style movie to be generating said footage and execute it almost by themselves, improvising much of the dialog from their story with Brice directing and shooting from the camera used in-story. They pile every joke that they can on and sell the heck out of each, whether they are shaggy-dog stories, one-liners, or putting a scene together visually in a way that's both funny and disturbing. Creep is a tremendously funny movie, and even when it starts getting into more unsettling territory, the jokes are perfectly executed. It's "wait, what?" humor executed more or less perfectly.
Part of that comes from one of Duplass's best comedic performances, with the extremely prolific actor and filmmaker slipping into the part of Josef as if he was made for it, smiling ingratiatingly with boy-next-door charm and always able to return to a sort of innocent generosity even after doing something weird or even kind of sinister. Brice, meanwhile, excels as the ever-more-nervous straight man trying to make allowances for Josef's circumstances but also strongly suspecting that this whole situation crossed over into "too weird for me" a while ago. He does most of it with his voice, but deadpans well when his face does make it on camera.
This gets a little more difficult to justify as the movie goes on and the humor gets darker; the story-starter that makes doing the whole movie from a first-person perspective gets a little stretched later on, relying on generated goodwill and the characters' odd habits to get the audience to overlook it. It mostly works - they've built up a lot of of that goodwill and are good enough at finding the humorously absurd bits in the unsettling situations that any shift in tone is gradual. Brice and editor Christopher Donlon keep it feeling loose and un-rushed but also tight; there's not a second wasted.It's kind of brilliant, especially if you're already a fan of Duplass's offbeat brand of humor and don't mind seeing it twisted into something a little stranger. I worry about continuing it - this movie is self-contained and I don't see how the way it makes use of the first-person style is repeatable. Maybe I'm wrong and the fact that the current plan is to release a whole trilogy in 2015 means the filmmakers have a plan. Even if they don't, this movie is great.
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