One of the most uncomfortable genre films to come along in years was the underrated Creep, in which actor Mark Duplass shows that his mumblecore magnetism is more than just unvarnished naturalism – it has a dark side. Co-starring director Patrick Brice, the found footage film unfurled dread in spades. But it was and is a niche film – how could they follow it up with an as-memorable sequel?
It wasn’t easy. In Creep 2 (review), Duplass is back as affable sociopath Aaron; and this time he’s squaring off with ambitious documentarian Sara (Desiree Akhavan), who, while she discounts Aaron’s assertions that he’s a serial killer, gives as good as she gets. We caught up with Duplass to see what he had to say, both as Aaron’s embodiment and as the sequel’s co-writer.
Dread Central: It must have been tough to decide whether to leave Creep alone as the unique experience it is or to give the fans more of what they’re been asking for. So, what was the tipping point?
Mark Duplass: The initial impetus was just loving the process of making these movies. Patrick and I are creatively linked in spirit, we’re very close friends, we love doing this, and it took us a long time to come up with a story line that we thought was worthwhile. We actually had quite a few false starts where we wrote a whole script for a different story that we actually threw out. And we kept saying we wanna make another one of these movies, but the last thing we want to do is make a shitty sequel. So it took us a couple of years to come around to a story that we felt good about. For us that came about once we started imagining this character coming head to head with somebody like Desiree, who’s a friend of ours, who could keep up. Creep 1 is about watching a cat play with a mouse – this was really about watching a cat come up to a cat its own size and see what happens.
DC: Desiree is great! But I’ll admit I haven’t seen her before this. You two have a great chemistry onscreen. Did you already know her?
MD: She is a highly awarded independent filmmaker, writer, director and actress. Her film Appropriate Behaviour premiered at Sundance and won a bunch of awards that year. She’s the real deal. She’s got it all. We weren’t really close friends [before making Creep 2] but we knew each other a bit and spent some time together. I knew enough to know we would have a good thing together. We specifically don’t rehearse these movies which is at once fun and terrifying because what happens is you get on set and it’s either electric and surprising and the scenes over in fifteen minutes and you got it or you fall flat on your face and you have to walk around the block and sit on the floor depressed for three hours until you figure out how to rewrite the scene to make it work. But that’s the fun of this process. I think if we’re offering anything unique at all, to the state of too many movies, too many horror movies, too much everything to watch, I think there’s an arts and crafts way of making these movies. The spontaneity in its process which is kind of childlike and creates a sense of anything can happen at any moment, and I think that these movies do their best to encapsulate that and bring at least something fresh to audiences. If we can.
DC: Aaron is a serial killer. To what do you attribute our enduring fascination with exploring these types of characters onscreen?
MD: I’ve never thought about it to be honest with you. I can always picture my own interests, and my interest in this character that I keep playing is that I can connect to this person because I want to connect deeply with people and I’m willing to go to extreme measure to get close with people. I hate small talk and I like getting close. I see that a lot in this character. And also, I see his ability to sort of shape shift his personality a little bit to win the favor of others. I think we all have that little element inside of us – which is maybe, I’ll laugh a little bit louder at this joke so that this person will like me. All those little things we do so that sort of mirror those gross elements inside of ourselves are really fascinating and stuff we try to explore with this weird guy who is at the center of Creep.
DC: One of the eerie things about Aaron is that we know nothing about him or his past. But in a prequel and origin-story loving world, have you and Patrick thought about that for the next movie?
MD: We’ve talked about the prequel and what that might look like. It certainly wouldn’t be [spelled out], in our minds. It would be non-definitive because we’re the last people in the world who could definitively tell you why a person ends up the way they end up. But we know that, every time we watch the ending to the first movie – and spoiler alert – you see all those tapes in there of past victims, we have a similar feeling to what our friends who like the movie, have said: ‘I wanna see all those tapes, I wanna see all these different people that this guy has become.’ So I do think that there are more Creep movies. But we don’t want to do them just to do them; we’ve got to make sure it’s the right idea.
DC: You seen drawn to dark characters, even when they are charming and seem to be normal… there’s something murky under the surface… Many of them border on horror. Will you do more horror in the future?
MD: I look at it a little differently. I just try to tell extremely personal stories and stay on people’s faces because I’m fascinated by people and interpersonal dynamics. I’m excited to tell any kind of story in that format, whether it’s a horror story or sci-fi, or straight up relationship drama. I think if you look at my show, “Room 104” that I do on HBO, it’s fairly indicative of where I’m at right now. Just putting people inside of a box and letting them relate to each other and doing it for every possible story you could imagine. That’s where I’m headed.
Written by Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass with Brice directing, Creep 2 stars Duplass, who reprises his role from the first film, and Desiree Akhavan.
The Orchard will see Creep 2 hitting all digital formats on October 24th.
CREEP 2 stars Desiree Akhavan as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for “video work,” she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on, she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.