Patrick Brice’s directorial debut Creep (it’s been on the festival circuit for a year and a half, people) is a found footage discomfort comedy that could be a horror or maybe it’s just playing with you. Brice himself stars as Aaron, an am-pro videographer/director who makes his money doing contract gigs for people. Through Craigslist, he lands a gig with Josef (Mark Duplass), a man who wants to make a living document for his unborn son because Josef only has a short time to live. He got this idea from Dying Young, and makes no bones about it. Josef is an eccentric man who loves nothing more than playing pranks on his friends, or is there something more sinister to him, or is he just a creep?
Brice and Duplass milk this two-hander for all it’s worth. Brice, who appears mostly behind the camcorder, projects himself as a simpleton who finds himself in over his head with a character he doesn’t know how to respond to. But, Duplass turns in a tour de force performance of self-conscious comedic creepiness that keeps Creep on the bleeding edge of hilarity and, well, creepy as all get out. Duplass knows on which side the movie’s bread is buttered, and plays with the expectations of the audience through its surrogate character, Aaron.
The performance would be nothing without a judicious use of the found footage. At a thankfully slim 80 minutes, Creep runs through many of the found footage conventions, including an early run through a forest, but tweaked just enough to be fresh and exciting. Brice and Duplass worked on this film for awhile, reshooting scenes multiple times over to figure out what was working and what wasn’t, maximizing their use of every single moment of film. Creep isn’t just a good found footage horror, it’s also paced like a bat out of hell.
Is it a comedy? Is it a horror? Does it matter? Creep plays with expectations all the way through the final moments, even if Aaron has to make some sloppy decisions to get there. Well, sloppy depending on which movie he is in. Creep is great fun as long as you take a cue from Aaron and just roll with it.