Like adverbs, found footage* should be used…sparingly (whoops). In the case of Creep, the device doesn’t do the film any favors, spoiling what’s a top-drawer setup, and making the film, while really stellar, not wholly deserving of its critical ballyhoos. But hey, when compared against other found footage films…this one does kick some butt.
Again, the set up is pretty intriguing: Filmmaker Aaron responds online to an assignment to film the dying days of an entrepreneur, Josef, who wants to leave a posthumous video reminder for his son.
His place is in the remote San Bernardino Mountains and Aaron soon realizes that his patron is a bit…shall we say…particular about the kinds of messages he wants to convey and how.
Much like The Shining’s pre- and post- madness Jack Torrance are not nearly as far apart as they should’ve been, Creep reveals (too early) that Josef is…well…the film’s title and then some. He insists a “tubby time” bathtub playtime scene is filmed, where he drops his robe in front of hired videographer.
For Aaron though, a gig is a gig and he chalks up Josef’s eccentricity to his pending demise. That is…until he thinks better of it when Josef asks him to turn the camera off for what is a pretty sinister revelation (not to be revealed here).
A product of the infuriating hit-and-miss Blumhouse Productions, director Patrick Brice (Room 104) shows a deft touch and admirable restraint (at a running time of 77 minutes, almost too much restraint). He also does things with scary masks that the horror scene hasn’t seen in years, and it culminates in a stunning, and off-kilter finale.
***1/2 (out of 5)
*A rule of thumb is that if the found footage conceit could’ve been easily replaced, it should’ve been.