Creep does a whole lot with very little, few locations, and a two-man cast. Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass have interesting on screen chemistry and bounce off each other well. It’s a credit to Mark Duplass’ acting skills that a line like “Did I freak you out with my rape story?” didn’t break the momentum of the scene. The story itself might be lacking in complexity, but the dialog is not. Crisp, strangely funny, and quietly moving – Creep would have made an excellent stage play.
That might be the problem.
Sure, Creep cast two great actors for the story. But it doesn’t give the audience anything interesting to look at. The screen image doesn’t get anymore dynamic than two people talking to each other in various places, giving the impression of a “talking heads” documentary rather than a horror film. A sparse design isn’t the issue. It’s that the camera doesn’t show us anything really worth looking at. The visuals don’t add to the story. The dialog carries the entire film – and to be fair, does an excellent job of that. But a good film can’t be made entirely on dialog. This is where Creep falls short.
Creep would have worked wonderfully as a one or two act stage play, where the story could have been brought to life solely on the merits of its actors. When telling a story, it’s important that the medium be chosen thoughtfully and used to further the themes and action, not just spit out a story and hope for the best at the end. The story is interesting, but it just doesn’t work as a feature film.
It’s also important to note that while women are mentioned in the story and one speaks over the phone, there are none on screen. Creep also talks extensively about mental illness without going into details of what, exactly, the antagonist is suffering from. I’m disappointed to see another horror film that falls into the mental illness = violence trope, but Creep at least attempts to have a conversation about it first.