An Unbiased and Completely True Review Of..."Creep"
What's It All About?
We open on Aaron, a videographer who is driving to his latest job. A man named Josef has hired him for an 8 hour job at his home in the deep woods. Aaron arrives at the home, a home that is atop a hill with a daunting set of stairs leading to it. He hefts himself up to the top, knocking on the door. Waiting for a moment (and nobody coming to the door), Aaron decides that waiting for his subject in the car is best. As he turns, his camera picks up an ax lying on the ground. As Aaron puzzles over this, Josef appears, drawing Aaron into a hug and inviting him into the home. Josef begins to explain that the home has been in his family for a long time, and that he'd spent many summers here in the home. He informs Aaron that he wants a video made for his as yet unborn son, Buddy, because he has a brain tumor that is inoperable and wants the child to know his father. Aaron feels sorry for the man, and agrees to complete the job.
It gets strange immediately when Josef brings Aaron to a bathroom, strips down and gets into the tub. Josef tells Aaron, noticing that the cameraman is getting uncomfortable, that this portion of the film is to let his son know what taking a bath is like, and to imagine himself playing in the tub with dad. The mood changes, Josef ponders if this is really worth doing, and goes under the water in the tub. He remains there for a time, with no indication of coming back up. Aaron moves in to help Josef up to air, and Josef rises suddenly, scaring Aaron, but reassuring him that it was all a prank to get a laugh. He asks Aaron if he'd like to join him on a hike through the woods and Aaron agrees.
Josef tells Aaron that it gets pretty cold at this altitude and should get something warm from the closet, as he has plenty of coats and the like. Aaron opens the door and is again scared when he sees a grey snarling wolf mask on a shelf in the closet, facing toward the door. Josef apologizes for the scare, and tells Aaron that the mask is named "Peachfuzz", based on a character his father had once created when Josef was a boy. To prove the point, he dons the mask and awkwardly sings a song that he claims his father sang to him as a boy as the Peachfuzz character.
They get into Josef's car and head for the hiking trail. Once there, Josef begins telling a tale of a heart shaped spring that the trail leads to that legend said has miraculous healing powers. As they walk through the woods, Josef continues to run away from Aaron, hide behind trees and bushes before leaping out and scaring him. Aaron seems to be getting disturbed by these actions, and that unease grows when Josef tells him that he doesn't really have any idea where they are walking (or does he?). They do, however, find a heart shaped pool and step in. Josef, at least, seems to be effected by the water as he pulls Aaron in for yet another hug (he's a hugger apparently), and recommends heading out of the woods, into town and getting pancakes at a local diner.
After arriving at the diner, and getting menus, Josef casually states that they should see what's good here. When Aaron questions this statement, since Josef had made it seem that he was a regular here, Josef responds that the menu looked different. Josef then changes the conversational direction by asking if Aaron thought that Josef was going to chop him up with the ax by the front door. Aaron admits that the thought had crossed his mind, but after spending a good portion of the day with Josef, he doubts that this is something that would happen.
After relating a short tale of a time when Aaron was ashamed, Josef shows him a group of pictures he'd taken of Aaron when he'd first arrived at the house, stating that this allowed him to get to know Aaron before he knocked on the door, thereby lessening his anxiety of meeting Aaron for the first time. Aaron finds this creepy, but says he forgives Josef for taking the photos and not meeting him at the door initially.
They head back for the house, getting there after dark. Aaron is still a bit off kilter after the hike and the diner conversations, and lets Josef know he's heading out. Josef pleads for Aaron to stay for a quick drink before leaving, and Aaron agrees, though a little reluctantly. After a few shots, Aaron packs up to leave, but Josef stops him, asking him to turn the camera off so that he could share something that he was ashamed of, something he's kept secret.
Aaron sits, leaving the camera's microphone active. Josef then spins a story of how Peachfuzz was actually a mask he had purchased after finding beastiality photos on his computer, believing that his wife was looking at them and found them stimulating. He says that one night, he put the mask on, broke into his own house, tied his wife to the bed and had sex with her, essentially raping her with the mask on.
At this, Aaron has had enough, and tells Josef he's leaving. Aaron's car keys, however, are gone and Josef begins to demand that Aaron stay the night, especially because he's already put down some shots and with the dark forest roads, well, that would be a bad combination. When Aaron agrees to crash at the house, Aaron decides to pour them a celebratory drink, which he spike's Josef's glass with Benadryl, knocking him out.
From here, the movie takes on a dark turn, Josef's true intentions are brought into the light of day, culminating in a shocking ending. The movie ends with Josef setting up another appointment with a videographer online to get more video completed.
What Do I Think?
For yet another 'found footage' style film, this has enough bit of quirk and uniqueness to make it stand out from the crowd. Though the camera spends the majority of the movie focused on Josef, Aaron's presence is felt throughout the run time as the everyman, the witness to the absurdity of everything happening in the film.
There were elements of the plot where I wondered why anyone in their right mind would just stay along for the ride, given the odd behavior of Josef, however, within the confines of Aaron's idealized passion to help out Josef in creating the video, it is understandable. The guy was hired to do a job, and damn it all, he's going to finish the job, up until things get truly frightening. Even then, he still maintains a tenuous communication with Josef, not cutting him off entirely, or taking steps to keep him away. There is almost an undercurrent of romance behind Aaron's actions, that he in the words of another movie "can't quit" Josef.
Mark Duplass is so very underrated as a character actor. His portrayal of Josef if frightening and just sad enough for the viewer to feel empathetic about this kooky guy. Even with the ending, and all that it means for the story itself, there is still a feeling that Josef is just a misunderstood lonely man, looking for something out there that he can't quite articulate and that he tries to attain through means that would cause other people to shudder in terror.
I couldn't help but be transfixed as Josef continues to lead Aaron through the pathways of his mind. The lies, the jump scares, the kindness, and then vulnerability Josef throws out at random times is oddly endearing and mind boggling at once. I'm sure that out there is the world is a real life Josef, someone who willingly lies to have someone come into their life, if for just a short time, just to feel a sense of companionship, of friendship. Lonely people, it seems, may go to extremes to cure their woes, which Josef is apparently very good at doing.
I highly recommend Creep as a movie that will scare you, make you laugh, make you scratch your head in puzzlement, and keep you guessing how it will all shake out in the end. A great movie from a pair of friends who should be working together much more often if this is the quality of effort they can produce with minimal budget and equipment.