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"Creep 2" (2017) Movie Review

Former Houston Movie Examiner for Examiner. Currently a film critic in the Houston, TX, area. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society.

The official poster for the found footage horror film "Creep 2."

The official poster for the found footage horror film "Creep 2."

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. Interestingly, each film is almost entirely improvised. The screenplays (such as they are) are bare bones; they are basically just bullet points of locations and what action each actor should be doing in each scene (like driving a car while taking video).

Synopsis

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.

Now, he wants to do something different—perhaps a documentary—and that’s where struggling YouTube uploader and videographer Sara (Desiree Akhavan) comes in.

Sara scours Craigslist for the most bizarre ads so that she can 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 as the Killer

Mark Duplass has this awkwardness to him that makes him seem weird and unusual but also incredibly genuine and charming; he’s had that effect 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 he 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.

Sara and Aaron's Relationship

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.

Mark Duplass and Desiree Akhavan as Aaron and Sara in "Creep 2."

Mark Duplass and Desiree Akhavan as Aaron and Sara in "Creep 2."

Risking Her Life for Professional Success

The story is intriguing because most people would probably turn and run right at the beginning of the film. The moment Sara steps through the door, Aaron pretty much lays it all out on the line (literally and physically). Sara even addresses how insane this all seems while talking to the camera/audience, saying how she may be putting herself in a life-threatening situation.

Ultimately, however, she decides to stay because she could score 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 to which he wants to go aren’t exactly traditional.

Overall Review

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. This 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