April 20, 2006

DVD Review: Creep

Blindly buying a movie can be a very rewarding experience, or you can end up with a viewing experience that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Creep is one of those wonderful experiences you hope for. This movie turned out to be a deliciously creepy little horror film.

Creep opens with a couple of London sewer workers going on a tour of the pipelines. One of the guys is new, and does not seem to be terribly interested in being there, and is not shy about expressing his distaste, especially when he gets a nice splash of the raw stuff right in the mush. Anyway, during their tour, a new tunnel is discovered, hidden behind a brick wall. The older guy decides to check it out, moves on into the tunnel. Shortly after making his way into the inky darkness, screams emanate from the black, drawing our other worker to investigate. A screech rings out, a face jumps out into the light and recedes into the black. The scene then shifts to a party up above ground.

So begins our journey into the London underground. In reality, a safe haven, a place for clean transportation to points all across the city. On film, clean, brightly lit haven of transportation, connected by dark secrets in the blackness between the shiny stations. One secret, in particular, is coming out into the light. Something from the underground's past is making its presence known in a bold way. Is it evil? Or something else?

Next we are introduced to Kate, played by the lovely Franka Potente (Run Lola Run, Anatomy, The Bourne Identity) bedazzled in a hideous yellow dress. She is at a party, getting ready to go try to bed George Clooney. Now, here is where her story takes a turn, she heads down to the subway platform to catch up with George (he who does not appear in this film). Before going further, heed my warning: do not fall asleep while waiting for the last train, you are sure to miss it, and bad things will happen to you.

Kate wakes up on the empty platform, locked in and unable to leave. A train shows up, out of nowhere, she gets on. Before you know it, the train stops, the lights go out. We are shown that the driver is dead, a bloody mess in the front cabin. Well, I want to go on describing what happens, but that wouldn't do the movie any justice.

The rest of the film features Kate, with some new found underground friends, fighting for her life against the Creep. The Creep is this deformed denizen of the hidden tunnels beneath the city. A forgotten remnant of a forgotten past, he makes his life hunting those who enter his tunnels. But he is much more than that.

Creep does not offer up a neat and tidy history for our murderous villain, and that is part of the charm. There are hints strewn throughout to tell you about him, but you must put them together. Granted, the pieces only tell you a part of his story, the rest is up for speculation, but what is there paints a picture of a more complete bad guy than we should have had any right to expect. I guarantee that by the end of the movie, you will feel empathy for this creature. You will still find him deplorable due to the violent and bloody acts he commits, but you may have a desire to extend a touch of forgiveness his way.

Kate, on the other hand, goes through a transformation of her own. Early on, you probably will not really care for her, I know I didn't. In addition to the rather tacky fashions that adorn her frame, her attitude seems to be a little high brow for my taste. However, she more than proves herself as the film moves forward. She discovers a need inside her to recognize fellow humanity. In the end, besides going through a terrible ordeal, she has unlocked something else, a theretofore unseen connection with all levels of humanity.

There are other important characters here. Two of them are played by Paul Rattray and Kelly Scott. They portray a homeless couple, a lovely pair who live in the subway system and go out of their way to try and help Kate, beyond good reason it would seem. Then there is also Vas Blackwood as George, a guy who makes a return appearance later in the film. He is a good character who may come across as not such a good guy, but I think it is just a case of someone freaking out and focusing on themselves first. Logical reaction, considering the circumstance.

The film is far from perfect. There are a few scenes where you will probably find yourself yelling at the screen things like "How could you miss?" "Don't go down that tunnel!" and "Finish him!" Of course, they never listen to you. You know, when you watch a movie and the characters make seemingly stupid choices. Remember to consider a couple of things, first, in these high stress situations there is no telling just how someone will react, logic need not apply, second, if the characters all took our advice, the movie would end way too soon.

Writer/director Christopher Smith has successfully created a creepy little thriller. It seriously gets under your skin. There are scenes where the dread grows, building up beneath your skin. He has a fine actress in Franka Potente to carry the film, and she does a fine job. Combine the acting ability with some great looking cinematography and you have a nice combination. Smith also steps away from some of the traps of the genre, including the use of the musical sting. You know the sting, where the score sets you up for the jump scare. Smith does this to nice effect.

I will admit that I wish the story got a little deeper into the Creep's history. The trail of bread crumbs left is good, and it is nice how open it is, allowing us to fill in the holes with speculation, but it would have been nice to have had something a bit more concrete. There is also the case of the abrupt ending. Creep just sort of stops, the story has come partially to a close, but the final resolution isn't much of one. Perhaps we should apply a little more speculation here, oh well, maybe next time.

Video. Creep is presented in anamorphic widescreen, a ratio of 1.78:1. It looks good, the widely contrasting whites and blacks are clearly represented with no loss of detail, and colors look good, standing out in contrast to the lighting extremes. Not necessarily reference worthy, but very good, nothing to complain about.

Audio. There are Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks here. I listened to the 5.1 track, it does a very good job, while not being extraordinary.

Extras. I haven't gone through all of them, but there is definitely a nice selection.
-Audio Commentary with Christopher Smith. This is a very good track, Smith has a lot to offer about the actors, their methods, and the sets. All this while being interesting. Well worth your time.
-Featurette: The Making of Creep. This runs for more than half an hour and does a nice job of chronicling the onset stories. Very good.
-Featurette: The Look of Creep. I have not watched this yet.
-Featurette: Making the Creep - Make-Up/EFX. I have not watched this yet.
-Fright Fest 2004 Q&A - "The Dark Heart of Cinema." I have not watched this yet.
-Alternate Beginning. This is an unfilmed sequence, shown in storyboards with an explanation from Smith. I like the information that would have been presented, but I agree that opening with it would have been a bad idea. I would have liked to have seen it somewhere else in the mix.
-Alternate Ending. Like the beginning, this is storyboards with Smith talking about it. I agree with what he did here, by not using it. The actual choice is much better than this.
-Creep: Bonus Operation Scene. Not watched yet, but I can't wait! I liked the sequence that was in the film.

Bottomline. Like I said at the start, blind buys can be rewarding, and this one paid off. I liked this movie alot. Franka Potente is a fine actress, and she was surrounded with a top notch supporting cast. The premise is creepy (hehe), and provides some nice gore, not a lot, but fitting for the movie. If you like horror films, this is definitely a movie you'll want to check out.

Highly Recommended.
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