Creep 1 & 2
Creep (February 15/16)
Creep follows freelance videographer Aaron (Patrick Brice) as he arrives at a remote mountain residence for his latest assignment, with the character's eventual dealings with Mark Duplass' oddball Josef progressing from benignly bizarre to frighteningly menacing. It's perhaps not surprising to learn that Brice and Duplass, credited with the movie's story, improvised much of their dialogue, as Creep possesses a palpably meandering feel that persists for the duration of its appropriately brisk running time - which, in turn, ensures that the film is often as entertaining as it is tiresome (ie there's an erraticness that's been hard-wired into the proceedings). And although the opening half hour occasionally seems just a little too laid-back in its execution, Creep, past a certain point, adopts an unexpectedly sinister vibe that's perpetuated by a series of suspenseful, downright creepy sequences (eg Josef blocks a door while wearing an animal mask, Josef stands at the top of a dimly-lit set of stairs, etc). It's clear, too, that the movie benefits from Duplass' seriously effective turn as the obviously-unhinged Josef, as the actor does a nice job of ensuring his character never quite becomes the generic bad guy one might've anticipated. The chilling final stretch ultimately confirms Creep's place as a better-than-average horror effort, with the movie's less-than-consistent execution generally outweighed by a persistently unpredictable atmosphere.
A decent followup, Creep 2 follows struggling filmmaker Sara (Desiree Akhavan) as she agrees to spend a day working as a videographer for Mark Duplass' sinister figure (calling himself Aaron this time around) - with the movie detailing the expected fraught back-and-forth dynamic that ensues between the two disparate characters. Filmmaker Patrick Brice, working from a script cowritten with Duplass, delivers a fairly interesting spin on the original film's low-key atmosphere, as Creep 2's similar narrative has been goosed with a number of admittedly unexpected elements - with the most obvious and effective example of this the decision to transform Akhavan's Sara into a far-from-passive foil for Duplass' murderous character. It's just as apparent, however, that the lackadaisical, meandering atmosphere of the first film is just as problematic here as it was there (if not more so), as large swaths of the picture feel as though they've been entirely improvised and the midsection does, as a result, suffer from a wheel-spinning vibe that wreaks havoc on the already-tenuous momentum. Duplass' engrossing work as the charismatic antagonist is matched by a solid turn from Akhavan, while the movie benefits substantially from the inclusion of several overtly spellbinding sequences (eg Aaron makes an unexpected confession during a game of Two Truths and a Lie) - with the proliferation of such positive elements ultimately compensating for Creep 2's less-than-fully-realized atmosphere (ie this generally feels more like a sketch of an idea than a fully-fleshed-out feature).