Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Creep (2004)
Written & Directed by Christopher Smith

The night is still young (sort of) and I don't feel like crawling off to bed yet, so before the NaBloPoMo sands finish running through that hourglass, I guess I can throw one more review up for the month.

This time it's a look back at the way the month started, with another New UK Horror Film.  We were so impressed with writer/director Christopher Smith's horror-in-the-woods-while-on-a-team-building-exercise film, Severance, that Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to check out his earlier film, Creep

It's nowhere near as polished as Severance, which is to be expected, but it's still a bit of fun.  If only a bit.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Creep begins with a mildly amusing dialogue between two sewer workers about the various types and smells of shit.  It's a clever opening, but is lacking any real spark.  What it does do, however, is drop us immediately into the darkness and danger where the rest of the film will be set.  We also get the first of a few cheap scares, with the appearance of a nameless-girl-who-will-soon-be-dead.

We then cut to a cute, but hostile blond making her way through a party.  I was a little surprised to see that Franka Potente plays the lead in the film.  But then, I'm always surprised when I see her and she doesn't have her bright red Run Lola Run hair.  Here, she's blond and ready to track down George Clooney, who's apparently partying somewhere in London.  After being downright rude to the smarmiest guy at the party, she's off.  Running for a cab.

She actually does a lot of running in this film, which again, kept reminding me of Run Lola Run.  I wonder if that was intentional?

Meanwhile, back in the plot, after sipping some vodka (or other clear alcohol) from a travel-sized bottle while waiting for the Underground, she dozes off and misses the last train of the night.  And of course, she also finds herself alone, locked in the train station with no way out.

The whole scenario is a bit preposterous, but plays into some good, old-fashioned paranoia about being trapped in a scary place after-hours, so it has that going for it.  Then smarmy guy from the party shows up, snorting coke and ready to cut loose by whipping out his dick and trying to rape our heroine.  And he would have succeeded, too, if it weren't for the timely intervention of Mysterious Rat Man.

Which is cool at first, until he drags Rape-Boy under the train and starts mutilating him. 

So Lola runs.

And stumbles across some friendly junkies who live in the walls of the Underground.  And, as luck would have it, while trying to show her the way to the guard's station, Mysterious Rat Man starts killing anyone and everyone he can get his creepy, scabby hands on.  Here's a hint.  If you suddenly see hordes of rats swarming all around you, just get the hell out of there.  They are the harbingers of doom.

Long story short, before we know it, everyone's dead but Lola, who ends up tossed into a watery cage at the entrance to the sewer system.  However, one of the original sewer workers from the opening of the film is still alive, too.  Why?  Who knows.  Doesn't matter, anyway. 

Together, they escape from our creepy, bald, skinny, birth-defecty, scabby bad guy only to discover a weird underground hospital?  Where there were some sort of experiments done on children?  And Mysterious Rat Man was one of those kids?  And according to the photographic evidence, he was always creepy, bald, skinny, and birth-defecty.  The scabs are a new look for him.

While this is a fairly nonsensical plot twist, it does come from so far out of left field that it livened up what was kind of a dreary and boring series of dark shots of Lola running around.  The centerpiece of this new narrative shift is the discovery of cute girl junkie from earlier.  Seems she wasn't just killed like the menfolk, and was instead hauled into a dirty, abandoned delivery room, propped up in a delivery table with her feet up in stirrups, and prepped for imaginary surgery.

Well, not really imaginary.  Mysterious Rat Man pretends to wash up, like he's seen the doctor do in the distant past, puts on his scrubs, then breaks out his real, HUGE FREAKING KNIFE.  As you can probably guess, things don't go well for Stirrup Girl.  On the plus side, we don't really see anything gory here, either.  It's mostly suggested by the screams and thrusting of the knife off-camera, accompanied by the occasional splash of blood.

The ending of the film pirouettes away from a very nice and sudden impaling of Sewer Worker's head on a stick, to Lola being confronted by No Longer Quite So Mysterious Rat Man just feet away from safety.  As luck would have it, she stumbles across a huge hook on the end of a chain, and successfully shoves it through Rat Man's neck.  She then tosses the chain out onto the train tracks in the hopes of electrocuting him.

However, in what is either a clever bit of bait-and-switch (Smith's script plays with the dangers of the third rail earlier, in what seemed like obvious foreshadowing), or simply a failure in the effects budget, Rat Man isn't electrocuted, but instead a passing train hits the chain stretched across the rails, yanking the hook from Rat Man's neck in a violent burst of gore and blood.

Lola then watches, ready to pounce, as Rat Man bleeds out on the subway floor.

It was a bit anti-climactic, actually.

She then stumbles up out of the tunnels and onto a railway platform, where she slides to the ground, covered in filth and sewage, with the only other survivor, a little dog (!), who curls up on her lap.  As faceless businessmen begin filtering out to await their morning trains, one turns toward her and drops her some change, thinking she's a homeless junkie.  Lola laughs a little, then cries, as we, the viewers are supposed to maybe draw some sort of message about the homeless from all of this?

I don't know.

Creep had a few good scares, a couple of nicely orchestrated gore scenes, and some truly bizarre imagery that seemed to have no real connection to the rest of the film.  I still don't know where that underground laboratory with all the baby cribs came from.  But with that said, this was kind of a mish-mash of ideas lacking any real cohesion or character development.  I am amazed at the level of both writing and directorial growth between this film and Severance two years later.  It's hard to believe the same man was responsible for the two films.

Now I'm very interested to see Smith's third film, Triangle, if only to see if he continues to develop creatively.  I've heard good things about it and have it sitting on a shelf, just waiting to be watched.  Hopefully I can get to it sooner, rather than later.


  1. Death Line is better. Perhaps more implausible, but better, and it has Christopher Lee as a government minister and Donald Pleasence as a Cockney copper, in the Sweeney mould. You may find it under the name Raw Meat.

  2. Well, anything with Donald Pleasence and Christopher Lee has to go into my Netflix queue.

  3. Please post a review if you do watch it. It's one of my favourites.

  4. Will do.

    Should even be able to convince Dr. Girlfriend to check it out with that actor line-up.