Directed by Christopher Smith
Produced by Julie Baines & Jason Newmark
Written by Christopher Smith
Director of Photograpy Danny Cohen
Music by The Insects
Cast: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Jeremy Sheffield & Sean Harris
2004/85 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/UK/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lionsgate Home Entertainment DVD
"Formulaic" is a term which is used far too often in film criticism. It's very easy to accuse a movie of following the exact same path as film's which have come before it. But, let's face it, after over 100 years of cinema, it's very hard for a movie to come off as original or ground-breaking, especially if it's trying to tell a coherent story. Still, the "formulaic" label can be fitting at times, and CREEP easily deserves it. The movie is well-crafted, but every element feels very familiar.

CREEP focuses on London party-girl Kate (Franka Potente), who leaves a soiree one night to go in search of her friend (who is supposedly having a rendezvous with George Clooney). Kate reaches the subway station and sits on a bench to rest. But, the partying and the alcohol have apparently taken their toll on Kate, as she falls asleep while waiting for her train. When she awakens, she finds that the station is deserted and that she is locked in. While searching for an exit, Kate meets Jimmy (Paul Rattray) and Mandy (Kelly Scott), two homeless people who live in the station. They agree to help Kate locate a way out, but they are attacked by a vicious, deformed man (Sean Harris). Separated from her would-be saviors, Kate must now navigate the subway tunnels and deserted stations on her own, attempting to avoid the homicidal "Creep".

CREEP is one of those films which is difficult to judge. In a truly aesthetic sense, it isn't a "bad" movie. The use of the real London Underground gives the film a great sense of style and class which elevates it above the average "B-movie" level. The cast is good, and the presence of genre vet Potente (ANATOMY), makes the movie approachable. At 85 minutes, the movie moves along nicely and the action scenes are well placed in the film. The second-half of the film contains some nice gore set-pieces and the movie isn't afraid to show the red stuff.

It's the story that hinders CREEP. Nearly every element of the story is reminiscent of another movie. To name a few, the locked subway station resembles JACOB'S LADDER; the subway setting is a direct homage to AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (the director admits to this one); the fact that there's a murderer in the subway recalls C.H.U.D. and RAW MEAT (which I haven't seen); some of the elements involving the "Creep" reminded me of FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART 2. You can't really look at CREEP and claim that it's a rip-off of any other film, but like a stew, it's comprised of many different elements that you've had before. And like a stew, it's not totally satisfying.

The fact that CREEP feels familiar isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the movie accessible, but writer/director Christopher Smith never tries to dig his way out of the formula and the entire film comes across as very run-of-the-mill. While the movie isn't entirely predictable, it's easy to guess who's going to die and what kind of twists the story is going to take. As Kate learns more about the "Creep", the story becomes very similar to movies of this vein. (***SPOILER ALERT: When Kate finds the "Creep's" lair, it reminded me of dozens of other movies. END SPOILER ALERT***) The explanation of the "Creep" isn't satisfying either. Smith tells us that he likes ambiguous endings, but this one in particular feels very lazy to me. The audience is given clues to his origin, but it's just vague enough to be frustrating. The effect of CREEP is a rather benign one. As a horror film, it's successful in some aspects, but it's nothing special and genre fans will be busy noticing the scenes which they feel they've seen before.

CREEP creeps onto DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer is good, as the image is sharp. However, there is a minute, yet noticeable amount of grain on the picture. The colors are very good, as the picture vacillates from dark, dank blacks to vibrant yellows and greens. There was a small amount of artifacting visible in the transfer, but otherwise it looked OK. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are good, and the sound mix takes advantage of many ambient sounds which inhabit the subway station. The bass response is actually a little too loud here and I had to make adjustments so that it wasn't overwhelming the dialogue.

The CREEP DVD includes a handful of extras. Writer/director Christopher Smith provides an audio commentary for the film. His talk is very straight-forward and he speaks at length throughout the film. Smith discusses the locations (and lets us know when the film is suddenly being shot in a different country), the actors, and the story. "The Making of CREEP" (34 minutes) is a very in-depth featurette which explore the story, the characters, and the actors. It contains some nice behind-the-scenes footage. In "The Look of CREEP" (11 minutes), production designer John Frankish describes the locations and sets. Special effects makeup supervisor Mike Bates leads us through monster creation in "Making the Creep" (10 minutes). Smith talks about the film some more in "Fright Fest 2004 Q & A" (11 minutes). Smith introduces both an "Alternate Beginning" and "Alternate Ending", both of which run around 4 minutes and both of which are composed only of storyboards. Finally, we have the "Creep Operation Scene" (2 minutes), which is essentially a longer version of the opening credit sequence.





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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©