I’ve been on a horror movie kick for the last few
monthsdecades. I find the genre to be one that can be intensely satisfying and unsettling when done properly, but frustrating and rage-inducing when done poorly. I can’t even count the number of horror movies I cycle through on Netflix in a year, just trying to catch that high that comes from a really good horror flick.
Sometimes the true nature of a horror movie isn’t fully revealed on the first viewing. The distinction between a successful horror movie and a failure is sometimes difficult to parse during the initial viewing. Something like The Purge might seem like it worked, but as the days pass and you realize you’ve forgotten all about it, the truth is revealed.
A good horror movie will burrow into your psyche, twisting around in the the shadows and recesses of your mind, until it emerges at a most inopportune time. Perhaps when you’re walking alone. Maybe when you’re driving late at night. One thing is certain: That kind of horror movie will follow you.
The last flick to climb inside of my head is 2014’s Creep, an independent found-footage film released at South By Southwest and currently available on Netflix. The film has only two characters (three if you count the voice of Angela (Katie Aselton) and a simple plot. Aaron (Patrick Brice) answers a Craigslist ad Josef (Mark Duplass) created to have someone film him for a day. Aaron agrees to this and heads to Josef’s cabin in the woods to meet him. From the moment Josef greets Aaron, it is very clear that something is not quite right. We then watch as Aaron valiantly powers through his day with Josef, showing more calm and restraint than most other people could muster. Then he realizes Josef might not be who he claims.
When I finished Creep, I wasn’t really sure what I thought about it. I decided there were too many jump scares. I dismissed Aaron’s reactions as unsatisfying. I moved on to the excellent The Lazarus Effect, which I enjoyed the entire time I watched. Strangely, The Lazarus Effect isn’t the Duplass film I’ve been rolling around in my head for days. It isn’t the one that crept stealthily into my mind when I awoke with a start in the middle of the night. It isn’t the one that flashes intrusively into my thoughts when they begin to wander.
It’s Creep. The one developed and written by the stars and directed by Brice. The one with intricacies and questions. The one without romance, music, or any real setup. The one that will worm itself into your brain and lay in wait for that perfect moment.