This review is surprisingly spoiler-free!
After seeing Chrisopher Smith’s latest film Black Death at Fantasia Fest, I was inspired to revisit his 2004 film Creep. Smith’s third film, preceding the sleeper hit Severance, it is difficult to tell how much of Creep is homage and how much is genre cliche. Similar to the French horror film Haute Tension, Creep is an exercise in suspense-building, with many scary set pieces slowly, painfully ratcheting up the tension.
Creep stars Franka Potente as Kate, a pretty German socialite living in London, on a quest to meet George Clooney, who is apparently in town. After rejecting the advances of an acquaintance at a party, Kate makes her way to Charring Cross tube station and dozes off on the platform while waiting for her train. When she awakens, she finds herself alone in a deserted station. Her train arrives and she boards, but the train is empty as well. Things begin to get really strange when the train stops abruptly in the middle of a tunnel…and the lights shut off.
What follows is a solid hour of suspenseful scenes and “Look out behind you!” moments. Smith introduces a plot hook (for example: a man walks down the darkened train towards Kate, shining his flashlight in her face but saying nothing) and slowly, gradually piles on the tension until it becomes unbearable. Finally, once you’re squirming in your seat with anticipation….BAM! Something jumps out of nowhere and you very nearly soil yourself. Smith finds many creative ways to inspire anxiety in the viewer, such as having a character stranded in complete darkness with only a flashlight to try and see the killer lurking nearby. These tension-building scenes are great fun, and even though they don’t all work, they make Creep a terrific film to watch with others.
Beyond the suspense, there really isn’t anything of note. The film is fine from a technical standpoint – the cinematography is unremarkable, but effective. The score is suitably uncomfortable, but nothing particularly new. The film itself is a completely generic woman-being-stalked-by-a-killer story the likes of which we have seen many, many times before.
Watching this early film from Christopher Smith illustrated to me just how much he has grown as a filmmaker. While it’s not a bad movie, Creep doesn’t hold a torch to Smith’s more recent films (Triangle and Black Death, specifically). It’s a fine horror film, and an entertaining experience for fans of the genre, but overall it just wasn’t very memorable.
3.25 out of 5