Director: Christopher Smith
Starring: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Sean Harris
Release date: January 28 (UK). I’ve not had much in the way of horror in this series so punch yer ticket and mind the doors coz it’s time to board the midnight train to terror. May contain the baffling absence of an emergency exit and spoilers…
Director Christopher Smith won’t mind me telling you that he is a big fan of the ‘video nasty’ (this is important later). He’s into the kind of flicks that refuse to cut away from the gloopy stuff. He likes a camera to shove its nose in amongst the entrails, then come back for an encore just when you thought it was safe to peek back at the screen from behind your popcorn bucket. Commendable, I can dig it, because I liked those movies as well, back in the late 1970’s/ early 1980’s. They were mainly notable for the gore FX, so bad it was funny. Not all bad, one or two pulled off some disconcertingly realistic dismembering but on the whole all you could do was laugh at the onslaught of bloody innards being flung at your face. Likewise, Smith wants you to chortle along with him at Creep. The thing is Creep isn’t funny, blackly or otherwise.
As a central idea it’s pretty slim. That isn’t a criticism, be as slim as you want. Kate (Franka Potente) gets locked down in a tube station at midnight (whoa-oh-oh-ohhh!) after falling asleep on the platform. I doubt that; Smith doubts it too hence the shots of her having a few quick snifters from a dinky bottle, the idea being twas the alcohol wot done it. It’s the last train; no one on the platform gives her a helpful nudge? Thanks a bunch, arseholes. So, she’s missed it. Nevertheless, a train miraculously arrives and even more miraculously the driver is either killed instantly by a lurking Creep or dead already. More miraculous than that? An admirer from a party she’s been to, Guy, also jumps on the train, unbeknown to her. Considering all the gates were apparently chained up and locked, how did he get in? Well, if he was already in there, you’re not telling me he’s gonna happily miss the last train to Cuntsville and get locked in all night just so he can chuck his muck at Kate. No, he’s going to be the gallant gentleman, waking her up in the nick of time and getting on her good side. Who knows, he might get lucky, she might think, ‘Eh, why not, I’ve been nailed by worse…’
Anyway, he’s been drinking and smacking it up the nose and he tries to rape her (all right, gallant’s probably not in his lexicon). Luckily, Creep arrives, her knight in shining saliva and does a number on Guy. Kate runs off and ‘befriends’ a couple of tramps, Jimmy and Mandy (Paul Rattray, Kelly Scott) and tries to engineer a way out of the station but merely ends up deeper in the labyrinth of tunnels with Creep never far behind. He even second-guesses her by killing the night guard she’s trying to alert. I don’t know how Creep gets into this bloke’s control room, he just does, a manky Pied Piper conducting a horde of rats ahead of him. Rubbish. Kate has a retarded conversation with the guard just before his messy demise. He asks her a simple question; “Are you part of the homeless crowd?” To which the answer is ‘No’. Instead she starts going; “Yes, no, yes, no, I don’t know, eh, what, glue, antelopes. What was the question again?” Something like that anyway. Stupid.
It would be easy to compare this bollocks to Death Line (aka Raw Meat), there are aesthetic similarities but Smith is driving around on the outskirts of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Creep is no Leatherface though; he’s too knowing and in control. He’s got a daily routine, it works for him and he sticks to it. Leatherface is in a panic, he doesn’t know what the fuck is going on, where all these pesky kids are coming from. There’s a decent enough back story to Creep; a child subjected to secret underground lab testing, now grown and knowing no different than to mimic the actions of the doctors he remembers. He’s reminiscent of ‘The Man’ from Death Line in that respect, who continues to mimic “mind the doors” as if it explains everything. ‘The Man’ is a sympathetic character. I think Smith means for us to feel some sympathy for Creep too once his tragic history is apparent but there’s no chance of that happening and this is why…
Smith’s dark heart and his misguided fishing for a guilty laugh is epitomised in one scene; Kate and George (Vas Blackwood) find Creep’s secret lair and the missing tramp Mandy. They assume she’s dead, George doesn’t check thoroughly because he just wants to boogie out of there pronto. George, by the way, was grabbed by Creep at the beginning of the film. He and Kate have been kept in submerged cages, the purpose of which I cannot fathom. Anyhow, they scarper even as Mandy is trying to call to them for help, her voice but a whisper. Creep doesn’t bother chasing the fleeing duo; instead he embarks on some exploratory surgery on Mandy, surgery we know he has witnessed in the dim distant past, on others and possibly on himself. This scene is hilarious because he mimes washing his filthy hands under a tap coz there’s no running water. Then he puts a surgical gown on, plus a pair of soiled gloves which he can’t get his fingers into properly. If you’re not ROFL-ing by now you’ve got no sense of humour. Funniest of all, he gives her a mask for a dose of knock-out gas, but there isn’t any. Then he takes a bone saw and proceeds to hack her into pieces. But we don’t get to see this last atrocity, so, not quite got the bottle of his beloved ‘video nasty’ flicks then, eh. No, Chris, that isn’t black comedy and no one in the audience cares about poor Creep, if they ever started to.
Actually, I didn’t care about Kate escaping, or George, or anyone. Apart from the dog, I was hoping Ray the pooch would make it. My interest had pretty much evaporated when the night guard got offed, to be honest. Kate makes horror movie decisions, but not in an amusingly hokey manner. They’re just daft decisions. You or I possibly wouldn’t crawl into a cubbyhole in search of… dunno, really. After what’s just happened to Guy, yeh, you’d just crawl into a dim, claustrophobic maintenance hatch. She’s following Ray; for all she knows the dog might belong to the killer. Presumably her cell can’t get a signal or the battery is dead. All you have to do in a movie is go “Gah!” and look flustered. That means your phone doesn’t work. She would get a signal at pavement level though so that’s bollocks. The payphone needs neither a signal nor batteries so I’m not quite sure why she doesn’t use that (she goes “Gah!” and looks flustered). She did get notes out of a cash machine so fair enough, she probably didn’t have any change. But do you need any to call 999? No, you don’t.
My understanding is that stations have certain emergency procedures for just such an occurrence as being accidentally locked in. Too many to list here but you’ve got stuff like emergency exits, call buttons… I think even cleaners come in after the last train has gone so they’d let you out if you asked them nicely. Obviously, this being a movie, nothing that normally happens in reality will be allowed to get in the way of a fictional story. For the most part it shouldn’t bother me but in Creep the situations are too contrived. It doesn’t aid the suspension of disbelief. Smith also throws us some choice social comment, in that people from Kate’s world are snooty and unhelpful whereas the tramps are more than helpful as long as you keep stuffing cash in their hands. So it’s not their fault they’re addicted to heroin, it’s ours. I think that’s what Smith is saying isn’t it?
The performances are uniformly middling. Franka’s a trouper given the amount of crap she’s got to wade through, but she seems to be forcing a few lines. Rattray and Scott are okay, as is Blackwood. And Sean Harris (Fifield in Prometheus) as Creep does as much as he can to breathe life into his revolting character. I like some of the set-ups, the lighting, the harshness of it and then the sickly glow of Creep’s world. It’s got atmosphere, but no scares. It’s just cruel and nasty.
Creep doesn’t cut the mustard, sorry, Mr Smith. I quite enjoyed Severance which is blackly comic and Triangle is interesting until the whole thing begins to unravel around the halfway point. But this one… Death Line’s got nothing to worry about.
Score. Going into this second viewing I was already thinking Creep had got ‘1’ written all over it. Halfway through I was already halfing it. But y’know what, for Smith being so nasty, I’m going to be nasty right back. It can have one of these…
ThereWolf, July 2012