Mark Duplass is one of the few renaissance men in Hollywood, not tied down to a genre, a medium, or really anything beyond the desire to approach interesting, challenging, and often small work. In Creep, Duplass delves into the darkest avenues of his performing. The film, from director Patrick Brice, is yet another found footage horror/suspense, but it works because the found footage is less gimmick and more necessity for the story.
Brice also stars as Aaron, a young man in need of some work. He answers a cryptic ad that promises $1,000 for one day of filming. The job takes him to a cabin in nondescript mountains, where he meets Joseph, a curiously energetic and forward eccentric who tells Aaron he has a brain tumor and wants to film a segment of his life for his unborn son. “You ever see that movie My Life?” he asks Aaron. “It’s like that.”
Only filming Joseph’s day-to-day activities is nothing like the Michael Keaton melodrama. Especially since it begins with Joseph inviting Aaron into the bathroom to film him having a bath with his imaginary son that sets the stage for just how off kilter Joseph may actually be. From there, things only get stranger, as Joseph works his damnedest to scare the hell out of Aaron regularly. Aaron realizes something is wrong fairly soon, but goes along with everything. To a point, that is. The two hike into the woods, they discuss the strange wolf mask Joseph has in his closet, and they drink some whisky. When it comes time for Aaron to leave, wouldn’t you know his keys are nowhere to be found?
Creep takes off in some interesting directions after the first half. It doesn’t go down some typical road of madness, an innocent man held captive by a crazy person. It shifts gears, and Joseph remains an enigma. Duplass shifts from threatening, to himself frightened, to aloof and lonely, but whatever emotion he exudes never feels real.
Brice makes sure to never break apart the found-footage angle in Creep, even when the scene shifts from the cabin to Aaron’s home. Too many times, cameras cut and edits unravel the structure, therein ruining the entire found footage gimmick and distracting from the story at hand. Creep is Mark Duplass shining in a deeply unsettling role, and when everything is all said and done, the final scene leaves you aghast, horrified, yet unable to look away from Joseph as he speaks directly to the camera.
You can watch Creep on VOD now. In mid July it will have a theatrical release before hitting Netflix shortly thereafter.