Creep – 2014

Directed Patrick Brice
Starring Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Screenplay Brice and Duplass

Okay, full disclosure. I am not a fan of Mark Duplass. To now, one of the few times he’s been effective is on The Mindy Project, where he plays an arrogant practitioner of alternative medicine. The reason this seems to work is the character is a thinly veiled version of himself. He is one of many who live in the fringe of Hollywood, trying to eke out a living on his own terms. This an admirable trait, to be sure. It’s not easy to make it in the movies, and it takes a lot to make it on your own terms. For me, a lot of the stuff I’ve seen him in is just not my cup of tea.

A couple of weeks ago, while on The Adam Carolla Show Podcast, Duplass and Brice were on talking about this film and The Overnight. The discussion was interesting enough. Special points were made in discussing the conceivability of the horror film’s plot, which is a play on the inherent threat of Craigslist ads. One never knows who they are going to meet and what the other person’s motives are. Much was made on how improvisational the film is, and how it showed that one can get a lot of traction from a relatively small amount of effort or finances involved. They even said that while they saved The Overnight for the big bidders at Sundance Film Festival, they were pleasantly surprised to have had Creep bought by Netflix for a tidy little profit. Once I found out it would only cost me my time, I decided to go for it.

I want my time back. Somehow, Brice and Duplass turned the exciting premise into a drawn out torture of poorly written, half-heartedly executed and sloppily filmed hack work that could have been better done by someone taking it seriously. What could have been an expertly drawn, one night film, is brought to a thudding halt when it’s broken up over a series of mailed and not so thinly veiled threats that are never seriously acted out.

Aaron (Brice) responds to an ad on Craigslist driving to a seemingly remote location to visit Josef (Duplass) for a “discreet” job. That job is a relatively innocuous filming of a video for the unborn son of he and his wife, Angela. The reason for the video is Josef says that he will never see his son born due to his late stage cancer. Aaron begins his series of reluctant agreements by taking the $1000 cash promised for the job. What follows is a one half-thought through weirdness after another. Each one would call for leaving right away, were they not so boring.

That night ends with Aaron running past Josef who is wearing a wolf mask, he calls Peachfuzz. The action picks up a few nights later with Aaron watching a video of Josef burying two black garbage bags filled with a puffy material that is supposed to look like dead body. It doesn’t. The next thing we see is another very large package that, when opened is another video. Then there are the dreams and wacky hijinks. Then there is the Last Video.

Brice is not an actor. His work here shouldn’t qualify him for a S.A.G. card any time soon. Duplass’ version of lunatic fringe comes across as more a bored loser on a rainy Friday night. Or a Saturday night. There is no sense of fear created by any of his actions. Instead, it’s more a practice of patiently waiting for the Godot of a pending thrill. Godot never arrives.

So Duplass and Brice made enough here to put a little more money into the next project. That project maybe makes enough to pay for the next project. Maybe someday they strike gold. Maybe someday they make something more scary. Maybe someday they make something more memorable. Not this day.

(* out of *****)

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