Creep 2 (2017) Review
A Strangely Hypnotic Found Footage Horror Film
Co-writer and director Patrick Brice (who also played Aaron in Creep) and co-writer and lead actor Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed) imagined the Creep films as a trilogy while each film is almost entirely improvised other than a bare bones screenplay, which is basically just bullet points of locations and what action each actor should be doing in each scene (like driving a car while taking video).
In Creep 2, our killer from the first film (played by Duplass who has adopted the name Aaron over Josef) has just turned 40 and he’s lost his passion for killing. He’s killed 39 people and made a movie for each one, but he’s basically made the same movie over and over again. He wants to do something different like a documentary and that’s where struggling YouTube uploader and videographer Sara (Desiree Akhavan) comes in. Sara scours Craigslist for the most bizarre ads only to actually meet up with whoever posted the ad and share his or her story, but she’s not getting any views on her videos. Following the eccentric Aaron as he documents his killing process could be the boost she’s looking for, but she may be underestimating how dangerous Aaron really is.
Mark Duplass has had this awkwardness to him that makes him seem weird and unusual but also incredibly genuine and charming; he’s felt that way ever since he was in Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed. Duplass continues to ride that idiosyncratic wave of overwhelming peculiarity in Creep 2, but absolutely expands on it in every way. Aaron’s stories may sound farfetched at face value, but there’s also this strange-but-true quality to them and unfaltering sincerity in his voice as he talks about his deadly craft that makes his rambling sound factual. This behavior is perfect for an obsessive stalker who latches on quickly and doesn’t know when to let go, which describes Aaron in an incredibly basic nutshell.
The film plays with how much danger Sara finds herself in by staying with Aaron. Is she legitimately beginning to like him or is she just playing along to get the footage she needs? Will Aaron be able to suppress the urge to kill Sara long enough to finish the documentary? Is the documentary really Aaron’s objective? It’s interesting because Sara seems to have a lot in common with Aaron and she seems much more capable of taking care of herself than Aaron (Patrick Brice) did from the first film. Both Aaron and Sara are chasing after something; Sara attempting to make an episode of Encounters that doesn’t suck (her words) while Aaron searches for a reinvigorated purpose in killing. There’s chemistry between the two, but the film purposely complicates things so that a full-on relationship never fully blossoms; that’s what happens when you choose serial killing as your career.
The story is intriguing since most people would probably turn and run right at the beginning of the film since Aaron pretty much lays it all out on the line (literally and physically) as soon as Sara steps through the door. Sara even addresses how insane this all seems while talking to the camera/audience saying how this may be a life threatening situation but also ultimately decides to stay because this could be the epic episode of Encounters she’s always craved. Sara unintentionally awakens a side of Aaron that is darker and more demented than he already was when she first arrived. Aaron has a legacy he wants to share with Sara and the lengths at which he wants to do that aren’t exactly traditional.
Such heavy improvisation featured in film usually isn’t so easy to swallow. Joe Swanberg’s (Drinking Buddies, Win It All) entire directing career rides on what feels like totally winging it and just letting the cameras roll to hopefully capture something magical. Unfortunately Swanberg’s work fails to captivate the audience to a memorable degree. However Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass may have found the crown jewel of improvising in film. Duplass has this charm to his demeanor; an innocence that is both honest and terrifying. His awkward behavior is unpredictable because it seems as if he could be your best friend one minute and ripping out your insides the next. Creep 2 has this Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon quality to it that allows dark humor to gestate into something undeniably amusing and deeply unsettling. Creep 2 is the type of film that makes you squirm in your seat due to its uncomfortable nature, but your eyes remain glued to the screen because the thought of missing some crucial detail is just as horrific as a serial killer videotaping every one of his kills.
© 2017 Chris Sawin