Creep (2004) / Horror-Thriller
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for strong violence, gore, language, sexuality and a scene of drug use
Running Time: 85 min.
Cast: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Sean Harris, Jeremy Sheffield, Ken Campbell, Paul Rattray, Kelly Scott, Craig Feckrell
Director: Christopher Smith
Screenplay: Christopher Smith
Review published February 11, 2005
I'm not exactly certain why this film is called Creep, but if the creators of this disheartening dreck were to ask me for a better name, I'd tell them to remove the two E's from the title and replace them with one A. The tagline for this film reads, "Your journey terminates here", and if I have my way, your desire to see this film will terminate here as well.
Creep is a very bloody and quite grisly thriller, which automatically means it won't be everyone's cup of tea. However, all it really has going for it for some viewers will be the high gore quotient, and even in this regard, Christopher Smith doesn't really go all out (I'm personally thankful for this). This one suffers the fate of so many similarly dark thrillers, scoring most of its points by keeping us in the dark as to the killer's identity and motives, only to have these points completely eroded by becoming more and more ridiculous as we come to know more. Imagine if a mostly mute Gollum (from The Lord of the Rings) were to be found skulking in the sewers and subway systems beneath the city, and you'll begin to realize just how lame villainy can be.
Franka Potente (The Bourne Identity, All I Want) stars as Kate, a shallow 20-something German-born Londoner, on her way from a party, taking the now-deserted subway after hours once she leaves a swanky party. What she doesn't know is that a fellow colleague of hers is waiting for such an opportunity to force his way with her, without anyone to hear her cries for help. However, "help" does come in the nick of time, when the man is ripped away from her in screams of agony, as a mysterious creature has claimed him as the next victim in a series of horrific murders. Kate finds getting out of the labyrinthine tunnels of the subway system, and later, the sewers, to be next to impossible, especially when the others, who are also in the same predicament, are getting picked off by the creature lurking below.
Although I'd really like to, I'm not giving Creep my lowest rating because it actually does have a core intelligence, and moments of comic relief that, while not really that funny, made the gruesomeness tone just a bit easier to bear. Smith's direction is effectively chaotic, reminiscent in its quiet times of the vastly superior zombie flick, 28 Days Later, but sadly, the talent didn't carry over into his weak and unsatisfying script. The dialogue, what little there is, is absolutely horrid, and the scenarios employed constantly evoke a feeling of artifice -- a cardinal sin for a visceral, fast-paced thriller.
It isn't stellar much of the way, but it's at least tolerable, until things finally approach the climax, and Smith's tenuously constructed shocker collapses into absurd motivations, nonsensical plot developments, and a plunge into the realm of graphic sickness that will only please horror fans of the splatterhouse variety. While Smith keeps most of his gore off-screen, there's still plenty of it to nauseate the weak of stomach, so be warned. I'm not very squeamish myself, but eventually, the disgusting imagery sank my mood down to the point where I no longer cared what happens. I just wanted it to end.
Creep starts off with a trip though the cavernous sewer system below London, full of excrement, bile, urine, and other things vile, setting the tone for how the rest of the movie plays out, as we also feel like we've entered a sewer ourselves. When it's over, you'll be glad to get some much-needed fresh air, and head home to take a shower, and hope to wash away the bucket loads of revolting filth this film pours over you with unrelenting intensity. "How many ways can shit stink?", Blackwood's character asks early in the film. After 85 minutes of Creep, you'll know the answer.
©2005 Vince Leo