Fantasia Review: CREEP

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Horror comedies can be quite the odd combination at times. When a film focuses too much on one over the other, it runs the risk of pushing certain fans away. Throw the found-footage/POV angle into the mix, and well, the odds are almost against you from the get-go. Luckily, the Patrick Brice/Mark Duplass collaboration CREEP not only succeeds in completely hitting both the horror and the comedy right on their respective marks, but shows how a massive budget isn’t a necessity to tell a completely addictive and lasting story.

When Adam, a struggling filmmaker/videographer (Patrick Brice), answers an ad on Craigslist that proposes a thousand dollars for an easy day’s work, he jumps at the opportunity to make some extra money and takes a drive to the woods and to a nice vacation home. Almost immediately, things seem off, with nobody answering the door, a nearby axe lodged into a stump…cue slasher film, but not quite. Like an ADHD child, Adam is scared by Josef (Mark Duplass, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED), an eccentric and obviously somewhat off-kilter type of person who informs him that he wants Adam to film him for the day, as he’s dying from cancer and wants to document himself for his soon coming baby, akin to what Michael Keaton did to his unborn child in MY LIFE. While the idea seems sweet and endearing, almost instantly, Josef begins to exhibit strange behavior, complete with asking Adam to film him naked and pretending to give his unborn child a bath, as well as a steady input of actions that rise in risk.

Where CREEP succeeds, is in its ability to effortlessly shift between the comedy and horror elements, making you laugh your ass off one moment, and bite your teeth the next. The improvisational style of the film works very well, feeling completely natural, and though most folks would get the hell out of dodge as soon as any weirdness went down, the character of Adam has a very genuine and human quality to him. While a lot of films falling into the “found footage” sub-genre suffer from a lack of relatable characters,  CREEP feels like you’re watching a friend walk into a bad, very bad situation, but just when you think something completely awful is going to happen, Brice and Duplass pull the rug out from under you, leaving you laughing instead.

While the comedy/horror balance might turn some viewers off, it really works for the film, getting you as a viewer completely comfortable, then proceeding to build an enough tension to give you back pain, before starting that back and forth game with the audience all over. It’s a film that leaves you guessing throughout the entire time, not knowing if things will end up being just a big joke from the off-kilter Josef, or if things will end up bloody and murderous. Very few films these days are able to so effortlessly provide such an unknowing feeling about them, especially in the sub-genre that CREEP falls into. It doesn’t play into that “we don’t know what’s out there”-like theme that runs through most found footage films, instead Brice and Duplass are able to give viewers everything upfront, character-wise (there are literally two people in the entire film, save for a voice on a cell phone in one scene), and instead of it being about what dangers might be out in the mysterious unknown, it focuses on the dangers directly in front of you. It’s a completely refreshing and interesting approach that works so very well and will definitely stay in viewers’ heads for a long long time.