Creep (2015)

Posted by Joel Copling on August 31, 2015

"Creep" is an apt title for a compact chiller premised upon a very simple idea: the lies others tell us that make us feel, sometimes inexplicably, comfortable around them. Well, that's not entirely true. The protagonist here never actually seems to trust the stranger who hires him for a day's filming work, but there is the sense that Aaron (Patrick Brice, who also directed) wants to approach a professional relationship with Josef (Mark Duplass, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Brice) with some sense of decorum. It's an act of giving Josef the benefit of a doubt that, we increasingly discover, he certainly doesn't deserve.

These are the only two men we see onscreen and, by way of the style the film employs, through Aaron's camera. The partnership is, at first, a cordial but strange one, with Josef unloading information upon Aaron that is sad, desperate, personal or some combination of all of these. He has cancer--a tumor the size of a baseball on his brain--that may kill him within two or three months. He has a wife named Angela who is carrying his first child, whom he will name Buddy. He and Buddy would have shared time in the bathtub that Josef interacts on-camera in the film's first scene of mounting strangeness. He also has the strange tendency of jumping out from behind structures and scaring Aaron (In a genre that has lost itself to business involving jump scares, how nice that a movie finds a reason for them to exist).

Small things corrode Aaron's initial opinion of the man as just your average, nice guy. He lies about little things that become steadily bigger. He weaves a tale of sex that takes on a much more alarming impact when the identity of a certain character we never see is clarified. There is some business with a werewolf mask that has multiple terrific payoffs before the end. This is a truly unnerving character whose nature is constantly redefined. Duplass is superb at playing Josef as, well, a total creep. But there's a sadness here that no amount of unsettling behavior can truly hide. He is a pathetic man with serious psychological issues.

"Creep" does run into a problem when attempting to enter a third act that finds Aaron perhaps not quite safely back home, although this leads into a segment of such suspense that this viewer had to pause the movie for five whole minutes in order to regroup out of fright in order to move forward (meaning that it's an easy thing to forgive a flawed transition when what follows is so effective). The final trio of moves by Josef involves one that is fairly predictable due to an object of the Chekhov's variety, another that cements his status as the titular description, and a final gesture that perhaps morphs into something far more sinister.

Film Information

Patrick Brice (Aaron), Mark Duplass (Josef).

Directed by Patrick Brice and written by Brice and Mark Duplass.

Rated R (brief violence, language).

82 minutes.

Released in select cities on June 23, 2015.