In Creep 2, Mark Duplass returns to the hypnotically unsettling role of psychotic killer, Aaron (Creep 2). Or is it Josef (Creep)? As is a requirement for Found Footage, Aaron’s killer quirk is that he video-tapes his blossoming relationships and soon-thereafter murders of his victims. All who are found through a vague post on Craigslist.
The first film, quietly released to Netflix in 2015, was the sleeper genre hit of the year. Typically, Found Footage style of filmmaking causes a division among genre fans. Some of us (mee) love them, others grew bored of them before the credits of The Blair Witch Project even came to a crawl. But if you ask any horror fan what they think of Creep, you’ll hear nothing but praise.
Creep effectively harnessed the weaknesses and strengths of the Found Footage sub-genre to create a deeply unsettling character study. We feel the weight of the silence and isolation of our camera operator, the dread of a shot that lingers too long on an erratic subject. But the terrifying character of Josef could not have been nearly as successful if it wasn’t for Duplass’ complete disappearance into the role.
In Creep, we follow Aaron (different Aaron, portrayed by Patrick Brice, who also directs both films) who answers a strange ad on Craigslist seeking a videographer. When Aaron gets to the address, an isolated cottage in the middle of the woods, he meets Josef (Duplass). Josef is a kind, but moderately socially awkward man. He’s warm and welcoming at first, telling Aaron he requires his videography services to record a goodbye message for his young son as he’s dying of some inoperable disease. As the day draws on, Josef‘s requests get stranger and stranger, and he quickly grows possessive of his new acquaintance.
As a thoroughly unsettling cat and mouse game unfolds, Aaron tries desperately to escape the snare of Josef – but half the struggle is abandoning social niceties while you’re thoroughly creeped out. (Also, If you haven’t seen the first film Creep, you should probably stop reading a review for the second film. What I mean is, I’m going to spoil the first movie. Go watch it on Netflix if you haven’t seen it yet.) In the film’s unsettling denouement, audiences watch a slow and silent bludgeoning, one as jarring as hasn’t been seen since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). This quiet, unnerving journey was a slasher film in disguise.
Enter Creep 2.
We immediately learn our titular Creep is up to his old ways by the end of the opening scene. A nanny cam is delivered to Duplass’ latest unsuspecting victim; a baby Peachfuzz. It is our first window into the world of Creep 2. After a stiff and progressively scary conversation over some beers, our new chum ends up with his throat slashed.
We then meet our new protagonist, the quirky and commendably brave (or stupid) Sara, played by Desiree Akhavan. Sara has been filming her own Youtube show, “Encounters”. The series follows her as she brazenly meets with the lonely and strange men from the dark corners of online classifieds. Her results have been lackluster, and viewers simply aren’t tuning in to watch her stroke the hair of some old kook. So for her last episode, she picks the creepiest, vaguest message yet, opting to go all in. It just so happen’s answered the classified ad of a highly active Serial Killer..
Though the set-up and tone is nearly identical to the first film, this is where Creep 2 diverges from its predecessor. Instead of cooking up some faux sob story, Aaron (new name, but still Josef from Creep), lays it all on the table. Having just turned 40, he’s experiencing a serial killer’s mid-life crisis. Murders just don’t have the same luster anymore. He tells Sara of his heinous crimes, even going as far as to show her the untimely end of Aaron from Creep. He wants to create a documentary of his story, and create one final film.
Sara, though likely not believing Aaron’s strange story, ignores her instincts to GTFO and embraces the weird. And despite my screaming at her through the TV set, she follows him alone into the woods. Again, and again. But as Aaron reveals more and more of his strange inner-workings; introducing her to Peachfuzz, threatening to cut her head off, jump scares galore- Sara doesn’t back down. Strangely, she seem’s hip to his jive; able to walk him down from mental cliffs and create a calm balance to his erratic nature.
There’s definite chemistry here, but the audience will be on edge up until the final moment. Is Aaron really going into retirement, or has this all been another story for the camera? Sara may be the first match he’s ever met, but does that mean she’s safe?
I didn’t think it was possible, but I think I may have enjoyed Creep 2 more than the original film, Creep. An ass-backwards love story for the morbidly strange, Sara + Aaron may wind up being our new Gomez + Morticia goals.
Creep 2 is currently available on VOD. Creep, the original film, is streaming on Netflix.