I remember this film’s predecessor fondly. It came out around the same time as another found footage horror film, The Gallows. The Gallows was one of the worst examples of the genre I had ever seen – terribly filmed, used it’s premise as a copout for actual filmmaking, fell apart under the least bit of scrutiny, nothing but terrible CGI jump scares. Creep however, was released quietly on VOD yet was one of the best found footage films I’d ever seen. Creep subverted the expectations of the genre cleverly, redefined our idea of authorship when it comes to these films and who is holding the camera, and most of all stood as a great example of independent filmmaking that relied on character and story to overcome its limitations. Creep 2 is a terrific sequel that succeeds in all the same ways the original did while contributing further themes, storytelling tricks and character work.
Creep 2 finds Sara (Desiree Arkhavan), a video blogger who hosts a series about craigslist encounters who takes up a videographer offer from Aaron (Mark Duplass), a strange man who claims to be a serial killer.
Duplass is always a reliable presence, but he’s truly a joy to watch in these films. He’s charming yet unsettling as Aaron, magnetic yet off-putting all at once. You just never know what’s going to happen when he’s on screen. You’re never quite sure if you’re supposed to love this guy or be repulsed by him. Aaron will tell disturbing tales in great detail, but can you trust that they actually happened? Can you trust his name is even actually Aaron? He’s simultaneously unsettling and sympathetic, Duplass manipulating both you and Sara scene to scene. The film oscillates between being deeply uncomfortable and being hilarious because of how deeply uncomfortable it is, and that’s in large part due to Duplass. Desiree Arkhavan does a great job, holding her own against this unpredictable character and at times matching his insanity blow for blow.
Director Patrick Brice returns from a script co-written by Duplass, and I see a common theme forming across Brice’s young and promising filmography – his films mine their drive from the awkwardness of social interaction and our default settings to be polite to results both comedic (The Overnight) and horrifying/hilarious (Creep and Creep 2). Why do we feel this impulse to be nice and polite even when our instincts are telling us to run? Brice also works in themes about the fear of failure in your art and having a midlife crisis to deepen the characters and letting you understand why they do what they do. Brice continually keeps you on your feet as to who is operating the camera and what their intentions are. He knows you’ve seen this subgenre of film and that you know the rules, so he cleverly subverts the notion that you know what’s going to happen by messing with who is actually putting this footage together.
I saw Netflix in the opening credits, and I’m curious why this isn’t on their service already, because like Wheelman it falls into the realm of the perfect Netflix film. I was happy to watch it on the couch with my roommates. I sincerely hope Brice and Duplass get to finish the trilogy, because these films are bold reminders of how great found footage films can be. They are built off the strength of character and performance, and by embracing the limitations of a found footage film they transcend them. They prove that there is still new ground to be mined in one of the most tired subgenres, creating a rich character study out of genre material. Simply put, Creep 2 is by far the best found footage film you’re going to have seen in a good while – possibly since the first Creep.