While we’re on lockdown, I’ll be working on a series of retrospectives as I watch through my library. Many will be films I love but I may veer into less favorable territory from time to time to keep things interesting. I hope you all are all staying safe out there. First up on my quarantine re-watch list is Creep (2004). Read on for my musings.
It’s not entirely commonplace for a horror film to be particularly character driven but Creep certainly fits the bill. What I like about writer/director Christopher Smith (Severance) is that he’s not afraid to do things differently and in this case, it works exceptionally well. He scripts Kate (Franka Potente of Run Lola Run) as vapid and almost impossible to warm up to at the beginning of the film, rather than making her likable out of the gate. But the ordeal she goes through softens her and makes her increasingly accessible to the audience.
As the story unfolds, Kate becomes more humanized and gradually transforms into a compassionate person. Watching her evolve during the film’s runtime makes the peril she encounters that much more palpable. Kate learns empathy from the people she meets in the subway tunnels underneath London. All this whilst being pursued by a maniac who wants to slice first and ask questions later.
Creep benefits from a mostly well-written screenplay from Christopher Smith (who also directed). Smith’s script (while fairly paint-by-numbers as far as the stalk-and-slash sequences go) carefully builds Kate up and breaks her down. Smith brings to life a world of chaos and confusion in the intricate tunnel system under the city streets of London that makes for a taut viewing experience. He establishes a claustrophobic sensation that builds a mounting sense of unease in the viewer and exploits that to the point where Kate’s anxiety is almost palpable.
My main criticism of Creep is that Kate wastes the opportunity to take out the killer when she has him in a vulnerable state. That’s not entirely uncommon in slasher films but Smith has put together an (arguably) otherwise logical script. So, it’s disappointing to see Kate commit a bonehead move like that. With a little tweaking, Creep could have been even better than it is.
Criticism aside, Creep is a fast-paced and compelling flick. If you haven’t had the chance to check it out, it’s worth looking into. Unfortunately, the 2005 DVD release is a bare bones offering. It would be great to see a more comprehensive package put together by a distributor more focused on dazzling fans with bonus content in the future.