Creep (2005)

Starring Franka (Anatomy) Potente, Sean (24 Hour Party People) Harris, Vas (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) Blackwood

Directed by Christopher Smith

Say what you will about public transportation, personally I love it. I’ve been utilizing it for almost a year now, and I can say there’s no better way to get from point A to point B with the least amount of hassles than the train. That is, unless, you miss it. And it’s late at night. And you get locked in the subway station. And something is out stalking the tunnels, something…hungry.

Such is the case for poor Kate (Potente), who leaves a late-night party to try and make it across town in hopes of catching a glimpse of one the hunkiest of celebrities, George Clooney. While waiting for the train, however, she dozes off and when she awakens the station is deserted and locked, trapping her in. A train arrives, however, and she believes she’s on her way to freedom until it inexplicably stops and the power goes out. After a run-in with a fellow coked-up partygoer that almost ends in rape but instead with him being pulled out of the train by an unknown assailant, Kate realizes she may be in trouble.

And it only gets worse from there. She enlists the help of a homeless man who leaves his strung-out girlfriend behind to help Kate find a security guard, only for the girlfriend to disappear and the homeless man to follow suit shortly after. Something is using the London Underground tunnels as a sort of buffet, and Kate is on the run to try and prevent her place on the menu from coming up.

A few things about Creep that set it apart from other movies with a similar concept: Fiirst off, the monster, as it were, doesn’t spend most of the time in the shadows. Instead it is fully revealed halfway through and never hidden again. The very concept of the monster sets it apart as well. Much like Raw Meat before it, this stalker of the underground is actually quite human, if not identical to you or me in every feature. Both the revelation of the creature and its similarity to us above ground dwellers gives the whole concept a lift in the right direction, and a more emotional core that makes the terror that much more palpable.

Something else that makes it stand out, for me at least, was that our main character is pretty much a vapid bitch at first. I mean, she’s taking a train across London at night in order to try and shag George Clooney for God’s sake; it’s not like her priorities match up with you or me. She even tells off the homeless guy who’s trying to help her when he tells more about his life than she cares to hear. All she cares about is herself for the first half of the movie. Slowly but surely, however, she comes around to realize that this tiny world is not centered around just her and her need to escape the tunnels, but that other people’s lives are in danger as well.

We should also talk a moment about the use of lighting and sound throughout. Previous to the monster being revealed it’s all about shadows and low lights. Once he’s shown on camera, however, many scenes are filmed in harsh fluorescents, which makes absolutely no one look pretty. The overall look of Creep is just dirty, and the sounds that take place during some of the more vicious scenes (our monster fancies himself a minor surgeon) will likely unsettle most viewers. Which is what makes it work so well.

There were some issues with the film, one of them being the simple fact that I didn’t like Kate at all for the first 30 or 40 minutes and believed it wouldn’t be that great of a loss if she were to become yet another victim. It’s also pretty hard to believe some of the stuff that’s going on down there has gone on so long undetected, despite the fact that the living quarters of the monster is pretty close to civilization.

Overall, though, Creep doesn’t shy away from its roots at all, but instead of re-using the same basic ideas set forth by its predecessors in the stalk-n-kill sub-genre, the filmmakers chose to take a slightly more interesting spin on it, making for a much more satisfying movie watching experience. It’s definitely a lot better than most of the films you see coming out these days just because it never talks down to its audience, trying to give a backstory on the creature or any of its victims, but instead just drops some hints here and there and lets you figure it out for yourself. Creep is a good time without asking too much of its audience (save for some disbelief suspension), a film that knows how and why horror works.

3 ½ out of 5

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