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Creep

Directed by Christopher Smith

Written by Christopher Smith

Starring Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Jeremy Sheffield, Sean Harris

Produced by Julie Baines, Jason Newmark

Rated R

85 minutes

****

Even though the “Silent Hill” movie won’t be hitting theatres for some time now, fans of creepy, surrealist and occasionally gruesome horror can snag the next best thing in the UK’s offering, “Creep.”

First off, you’ve got to love that title. It’s truth in advertising. Personified. Yes, yes, it’s called “Creep” largely because of the villain’s name, but truth be told this is some fantastically creepy stuff.

I mean REALLY creepy. And if you don’t believe me, just check out the menu. Those different security camera angles, each revealing a new and progressively scarier detail, are an excellent stroke.

But even these hair-raising menu options (no, it’s not hyperbole. Hit the special features button and see for yourself!) are no match for the first eight minutes. The first eight minutes are going to be home to a lot of edgy moments, and it has the effect of putting you on edge.

Now, the plot doesn’t sound like it should be very creepy. Basically, a model agency booker named Kate is going to try and get across town to meet George Clooney. I think we can all be pretty confident that she’s in London. Anyway, she can’t get a cab to meet George, so she turns to the subway to get her across town, and after downing one of those little bottles of what I’m guessing is vodka (though from the way the girl was drinking at the party she’d just left it could be paint thinner for all I know) she “dozes off” (read: passes out for those not inclined to be charitable) and by the time she wakes up, the station is empty, and everyone around her is gone.

Okay, “Silent Hill” moment, right? Right.

And then the next train comes in. And then…all hell breaks loose.

Seriously. We’ve gone from creepy to bloodstained in the space of around, oh, five minutes or so. And that’s the thing that got me about “Creep.” This isn’t one of those movies that takes a while to get fired up. This isn’t one of those movies that pulls a “Monev the Gale” with a wild opening ten minutes and then can’t keep up with the rest of the film. This starts big, runs big through the middle, and then finally ends on a pretty big note. It does not lag. There are no slack moments. Sure, there’s some quiet time for plot development—everybody worth talking about’s got that—but even that quiet time is well used to develop tension.

And even better, some of the scariest parts of “Creep” take place in a brightly lit environment. Now how’s that for originality? Everybody since the dawn of horror’s been counting on the moving darkness to yield scares—“Creep” stages most of its shock value in a white tiled subway station with overhanging flourescent light. Now THAT is bright!

Perhaps the biggest reason for applause for “Creep,” the gore factor—which you’d rightly expect to be ramped through the roof—is actually toned down. Splatter is a minimum here, and used rather sparingly, especially when compared to some bucket-based filmmaking we can all name.

Ladies, a special note—always wear pumps. The biggest heel you can get. Aside from the fact that most of us guys truly enjoy the sight, as Kate demonstrates at the fifty seven minute six second mark, if you’re ever trapped in a sewer system by a homicidal flesh eating ghoul, those six inch stilettos to an eye just might save your life. Think about it.

The ending features a plot element seemingly tacked on at the last second to give our main baddie a little note of humanity (which I actually found rather forced and a bit confusing, it’s kind of like “Dr. Giggles,” but only a bit), some fantastic cat-and-mouse work, and even a surprise comic twist at the end.

Yeah, that’s the twist! The ending’s funny!

The special features include audio and video options, several making-of featurettes including a Q&A session at Fright Fest 2004, director’s commentary, an alternate ending, an alternate BEGINNING, and trailers for “Saw II” and “Bloodline.”

All in all, “Creep” is an excellent example of some creepy, surrealist horror with just enough gore to keep the plot spicy. A freaky opening, a solidly done middle and an ending with a laugh is just the combination “Creep” needs to be put at the top of a rental list.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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