Newcomer Patrick Brice is having one hell of a year. His super uncomfortable black sex comedy The Overnight was the perfect mix of terrifying & hilarious and now his only other feature to date, Creep, has also reached its wide release the same year, revealing that Brice is far from a one-trick pony. If anything, Creep shows that Brice can achieve the same uncomfortable, but darkly funny intimacy of The Overnight with even less resources. Creep is a found footage horror film with an on-screen cast of exactly two: a wonderfully deranged Mark Duplass & Brice himself, who operates the camera & narrates when necessary. There’s no other way to put this, really: Creep is an inspiration. It’s one of those small-scale movies that remind you just how much you can accomplish with two (immensely talented) people & a camera.
Mark Duplass takes on most of the film’s acting burden, playing the titular creep with an alarming sense of dark humor. Duplass’ character is a collection of off-putting details. Behind his awkward smile, haircut, track pants, awkward everything really, it’s obvious from the get go that something is deeply wrong with the man. He claims to be a relapsing cancer survivor who hired Brice’s cameraman to document the last days of his life for his unborn son, but there’s something off about his performance that gradually begins to alarm Brice that he is not what he seems. Despite Duplass’ character’s relentless positivity that requires constant hugs, high fives, and baby talk (or maybe because of that positivity), the film’s title keeps you anticipating the moment the hammer will fall. When will the Creep reveal himself for what he truly is? By the time Duplass is asking his unsuspecting, newfound buddy questions like “Have you ever done anything you’re really ashamed of?” and introducing him to the third character of the film (and the movie’s true star), a werewolf mask named Peach Fuzz, the tension becomes almost unbearable. And then it gets worse.
Creep is not only a found footage film; it’s a found footage film set mostly in the woods, so it’d be understandable if it initially comes across as yet another Blair Witch knock-off, like say the goofy sasquatch movie Exists, but it’s much stranger than that. Just like with the haunted boat nightmare Triangle, Creep doesn’t let its genre or set location define its parameters. It isn’t until the film leaves the woods that you begin to understand just how strange the story Brice is telling truly is. Duplass does an excellent job of anchoring a film that asks a lot of him, and it’s refreshing to see his menacing side from last year’s The One I Love return to the screen, but it’s truly Brice’s triumph that’s the story here. In just two features, the relative unknown has found new ways to subvert intimacy & humor in a way that, well, creeps you out. It’s going to be interesting to see where his career goes in the future with larger casts & bigger budgets, but for now it’s incredible how much he’s been able to accomplish with so few moving parts.