What do you do when you’re sick at home after the holidays? Watch a horror movie on Netflix to creep yourself out! Just the title of Creep was promising, so I gave the indie found footage film a whirl.
Aaron (Patrick Brice, who co-wrote with Mark Duplass) is a cameraman who has accepted a pretty ambiguous job up in the mountains for an unknown person who needs camerawork for eight hours. When he arrives at the house, no one seems to be home, so he waits in his car. Then Joseph (Mark Duplass) appears, startling Aaron, and lets him inside. At first impression, Joseph appears to have great energy and seems very kind, and explains that he wants to make a “day in the life” video documentary for his unborn son because Joseph is dying of brain cancer. The fuzzy feelings for Joseph don’t last long, though; his first order of business that he wants filmed starts in the tub.
In one of the creepiest scenes I’ve watched in horror cinema in quite some time, Joseph gives an imaginary baby a bath while he’s in the bathtub, even speaking to the baby like it’s actually there and cuddling with it. If there actually had been a baby it would have been creepy enough, but the fact that he was interacting with a phantom child put it over the edge. At the end of the scene, Joseph explains his suicidal thoughts as he only has three months to live, and gives Aaron a scare as he “jokingly” puts his head underwater to freak Aaron out. It becomes clear right away that Joseph loves to scare people.
The film never truly gets as horrifying as the tub scene, but there are plenty of strange things that happen. Joseph brings Aaron through the woods to see a heart shaped monument near a waterfall where, according to folklore, a “pure heart will be healed.” After tons of twists and turns through the woods and just as Aaron is about to give up, they find the heart. Unfortunately, because Aaron thought he was being led on a wild goose chase and was proved wrong when they found the heart, he begins to let his guard down around Joseph. It starts to feel like Joseph is trying to tire Aaron out as he keeps giving him physical activities and then feeds him a large lunch.
There are little signs here and there that Joseph isn’t who he says he is. He tells Aaron he wants to bring him to a restaurant that he frequented with his family when they would vacation in the mountains, but he seems completely unfamiliar once they arrive. He admits to Aaron that he actually was there when Aaron arrived, and he showed him photos he had taken of Aaron. When he pushes Aaron to come in for a whiskey, you can see through the camera that as Aaron takes a drink, Joseph is only pretending to drink his.
In a strange and disturbing scene, Joseph asks Aaron to turn the camera off, but he leaves the microphone on. Joseph tells an off the wall story about how his wife likes animal porn and that he wore a wolf mask he calls “peach fuzz” and raped her…and according to Joseph, she enjoyed it.
After the bizarre story, Aaron can’t leave fast enough, but he can’t find his keys. He immediately suspects Joseph and puts on a fake happy face as he drugs Joseph’s whiskey with benadryl and urges him do a shot of it to get him to sleep so he can search for his keys.
He doesn’t find his keys, but he finds Joseph’s cell phone, and Angela, who Joseph said was his wife, calls. It quickly becomes clear that something is really wrong with Joseph and that everything he said was a lie; Angela is actually his sister, he does not have cancer, the home does not belong to their family, and she tells him that he needs to get out of the house right away.
As Aaron attempts to escape, Joseph, in his peach fuzz outfit, blocks the doorway. There is a scuffle, and the next scene we see is Joseph digging a grave for two trash bags. At first you think that Aaron’s body is in the bags, but we quickly learn that Aaron is actually watching a DVD that Joseph has sent to him in an attempt to scare him and that Aaron made it out of the house okay. In the coming days, many gifts and DVDs are bestowed upon Aaron from Joseph, the creepiest being a locket of the two of them that says “A+J Forever.”
In what Joseph says will be the last dvd, he explains in a heartfelt video that he is lonely and feels terrible for what he has done to Aaron, and that he just needs a friend. He asks Aaron to meet him in a public park to explain exactly who he is. Aaron feels badly for Joseph, and decides to meet him. He sets up a camera in his car pointing to the area where he is meeting Joseph and notes that his cell phone is set to dial 911 in case anything strange happens.
As Aaron is waiting for Joseph, staring into a serene lake, Joseph comes up behind him, puts his peach fuzz mask on, and takes an axe to Aaron’s head. The silence is palpable.
In the final scene, we see that Joseph has been watching the video of himself killing Aaron, noting that Aaron is his favorite because he was still willing to give Joseph another chance after all that he had done to him. He seems to truly be enjoying the film before putting it away in his cabinet full of tapes as he takes another call from a new filmmaker.
Patrick Brice didn’t give that great of a performance and I didn’t really like his character enough to care about what happened to him. Mark Duplass, however, was great as the creep. I thought that for a found footage film that only had two characters, it kept me surprisingly engaged. Even though you are never sure exactly what is going on and what to believe until the ending and there are definitely parts that disturb, the height of the creepiness came very early on in the bathtub scene. The only scene that was almost as good was the silent scene when Aaron is murdered, circling back to the woods when Joseph casually asked “did you think I was going to murder you with my axe?”
Jessica's Final Review
Suffice it to say, Creep did not do anything to ease my fears of strange people who live in remote communities, but the scariest notion of all was that Joseph was a likable guy. A true sociopath is a great actor and believable liar and everyone seems to be surprised when they hear that they are actually a murderer, and this movie captured that element of sociopathic behavior really well. Humans can be scarier than any monster, and Creep proved that. I’m a very empathetic person, and it got under my skin that feeling so bad for the wrong kind of person could lead you down such a terrible path. Though the movie is weird (at times, truly bizarre), it serves as a tough reminder that you never truly know the inner workings of a person's mind.