Roughly this time last year, I’d discovered Mark Duplass in the devastating romantic indie Blue Jay. An immense burning cheek sensation curled on my cheek and I was instantly smitten with the actor who’d also brought us phenomenal performances in films such as Safety Not Guaranteed. The writer and performer had earned a specific place in my brain and I was happily going to ride this crush out for a long time. That is until I immediately watched Creep afterwards…
Directed and starring Patrick Brice (who brought us The Overnight which, again, needs all the love,) Creep was a subversive and inventive horror film that clawed under your skin as videographer Aaron (Brice) meets an eccentric and bizarre man who is dying and wishes to film a goodbye video for his unborn child. It quickly and horrifically descends into mayhem, doing exactly what it says on the tin. The film was a triumph in the unnerving, a brilliant escapade in tension and toe-curling antics. Duplass certainly proved himself as a commanding lead that you can never quite take your eye off despite filling your stomach with a sense of the perturbing.
Following up the success of Creep, the filmmakers have teamed up with Appropriate Behaviour’s Desiree Akhavan for a solid and unnerving sequel. Taking off, presumedly, a few years after the shocking finale of the first film, and our anti-hero serial killer Josef (now named Aaron,) is having a crisis: After year’s of killings, he’s lost joy in what he does and doesn’t know whether to continue his work. Enlisting the help of down and out documentary maker Sara, Aaron tries to film his swansong movie as a goodbye to the world, only to find himself in the company of someone who tests him…
Creep 2’s lacking is that there is no surprise. With the presence of Josef/Aaron, we’re already aware of who he is and what he has done. In the first film, this was very much the crux of what made the film disturbing. What was a genuinely sweet proposition turned deadly is a shocking film. With this sequel, you already know this and it (especially in the beginning,) takes away that initial pull.
But that’s pretty much where the complaints end. Whilst Creep 2 may not have the jump scares, it certainly has the same atmosphere of “What the fuck?” (which I think Sarah says repeatedly in the film. It’s an apt motif.) Mark Duplass excels in this role because you absolutely have no sense on how his character is going to react, what he is feeling, and what is driving him. That makes him such a compelling character. He’s so utterly batshit that his next move is always surprising. Duplass fleshes him out in an earnest and fantastic way that it culminates in a delicious dark finale.
Akhavan is a wonderful addition to the movie series (at this point, I’m assuming that a third is definitely in the cards.) Her character Sara is very indicative of documentary filmmakers attitudes: To prod and provoke for alarming results. As she gets deeper into Josef/Aaron’s world, she is still of the belief that he is making it all up, which could lead her down a darker path. Akhaavan has humour ande prowess here that makes you not only endear to her, but prods and provokes you to follower in this mad caper.
Whilst it may not be as impacting as the first film, it has it’s moments. A particular rival “Tubbie” scene has set my skin on edge and I am yet to remove the chills from my skil. A horror romp for those who like the unconventional, Creep 2 reminds you that people are just bloody weird.
Creep 2 is available on Netflix now.