Creep Movie Review
This is a prime example of what is common referred to as a geek show. In the olden days, that meant that carnival goers were ushered into a back tent (and usually asked to cough up a few more dimes) to view a geek doing geek things, like biting the heads off chickens or swallowing worms. It was the lowest rung of entertainment, the 20th century equivalent of bear baiting.
These days we don't go to the carnival to see geeks doing disgusting things, we head to our local video store where countless straight-to-video geek fests await.
Creep, starring the usually lovely Franka Potente (Run Lola Run), is a British variation on the geek show and offers nothing new or even remotely interesting. It joins a growing legion of cheaply made gore fests designed to titillate the basest of interests. While its being set in the London subway seems at the fore a bit novel, the entire concept is quickly wasted and the film crumbles into a heap of tired genre clichés.
Franka plays Kate, (the DVD case says she has something to do with modeling or fashion) a woman who's left overnight on a subway platform and must spend the rest of her evening trying to avoid a squeaking maniac loose in the bowels of the Tube. You read that right, it's a squeaking maniac. When our eponymous geek appears about 48 minutes into the film he's revealed to be a very slight, practically anorexic, mutant who acts and sounds like a giant rat. Frightening, right?
While it's never really clarified, the viewer is expected to piece together some backstory for this pathetic wretch that involves secret medical testing in the sewers. Despite the fact that this geek has been raised sans education he's able to not only operate a train, but his lair has to be one of the most spacious apartments in all of London. I can just imagine the electrical bill for this cretin's lab. Right, he's got a lab down there. Turns out he's a scientist of some despicable sort breeding flesh hungry rats. I'll just stop there.
Oddly enough there is a whole subgenre of subway films. The best are Luc Besson's Subway and the recent Turkish export, Kontroll. And there is even a sub-sub-genre of subway horror films, best represented by Gary Sherman's '70s shocker Raw Meat to which Creep is hopelessly indebted. Where Raw Meat was cleverly metaphorically and surreally fantastic, Creep is just plain dumb and disgusting.
Fanboys and film geeks (the same thing?) speak at length about a perceived return to the ethos of the horror films of the '70s. They gush on and on about a movement afoot amongst today's horror cinephiles to create pictures that recall the bleak, brutal animalistic films that dotted the landscape of counter-culture cinema when genre pictures were either seen at drive-ins or on double bills in Times Square. I have yet to see any good examples of this supposed movement. Instead, I see a great number of films, like Creep, that try and emulate the horror films of the '70s but lack any real conviction. And there is nothing more disgusting than a poser who'll gargle blood just to make you nauseous. The problem lies in assuming that if you make a film with the same nuts and bolts, you'll end up creating something with the same emotional power. Just give it up already.
It's a shame that Franka Potente signed up for this. I'm sure her motivation must have been monetary because had she read the script with any sort of critical eye she'd have quickly released that this is a real stinker. And worst of all, the movie makes her look ugly. I don't know exactly how that's possibly, she's got such naturally alluring features, but director Christopher Smith does a fantastic job of burying her beauty.
Recent international horror exports like High Tension (highly overrated) and Wolf Creek (quite powerful) have made the jump to theatrical screenings in the US, mostly on good critical word of mouth and film festival buzz. There's a very good reason that Creep didn't get the same lavish treatment.
I need a Merchant-Ivory film to wash away the stench.