“I love wolves. Because they love deeply, but they don’t know how to express it, and they’re often very violent and, quite frankly, murder the things that they love, and inside of the wolf is this beautiful heart.”
Creep is a 2014 American independent found footage horror film directed by Patrick Brice, based on a story written by Brice and Mark Duplass. The film, which is Brice’s directorial debut, also stars both writers as Aaron and Josef, respectively.
Aaron (Patrick Brice) is an optimistic videographer who decides to come and work for Josef (Mark Duplass) after answering his ad on Craigslist. All Aaron has to do is record Josef throughout the day and remain discreet about the entire setup. Josef tells Aaron that he will be recording a series of videos for his unborn son, as he is dying from a terminal illness and will never be able to see him grow up. Aaron first records Josef in a bath tub pretending to give his son a bath, and is then asked to come hiking with Josef.
While getting a jacket, Aaron is startled by a wolf mask in the closet; Josef tells him that his father used to wear the mask and pretend to be a friendly wolf named Peachfuzz. Aaron accompanies him with the video camera. Throughout their time together, Josef repeatedly scares Aaron, excusing his behaviour by claiming he has a “weird sense of humor”. At a restaurant after their hiking trip, Josef admits to Aaron that he had taken photos of him before they met, as he wanted to get to know Aaron before meeting him; he apologizes profusely. He also says that Aaron has an “animal in him”, as he looks ready to kill Josef when Josef scares him.
As Aaron gets ready to leave that night, Josef asks him to stay for a drink of whiskey. He asks Aaron to turn off the camera; Aaron shuts off the video but leaves the sound on. Josef tells him he lied about Peachfuzz, and he wore the wolf mask in order to rape his wife and confirm his suspicions about her animal pornography habit. A now-unsettled Aaron drugs Josef’s whiskey then lays him to sleep and takes his phone, which suddenly starts ringing. Aaron hides and answers it; it is Josef’s “wife”, who tells Aaron that she is really just his sister, and that he needs to get out of the house as soon as he can.
Returning to where he left Josef, Aaron finds him gone; he searches for Josef, who scares him once again and tells him that he doesn’t want to die before running off. Aaron attempts to leave through the front door, but Josef blocks it with the Peachfuzz mask on. Aaron charges at him, and the camera shuts off.
When the video resumes, Aaron reveals that he escaped the house and made it home, but he soon received a DVD in the mail from Josef of him burying some bags in the yard; Aaron thinks it is meant as a threat. He has also been having terrible nightmares about Josef. Josef sends him a large box with a knife and a stuffed wolf in it, as well as another DVD with a video of Josef apologizing for the last video and saying that he really cares about Aaron. Aaron rips open the stuffed wolf, finding a locket with Josef’s and Aaron’s pictures in it, which he throws away. After getting no help from the police, Aaron hears a trash can fall one night, and as he investigates his home, Josef appears at the front door.
Days later, Josef takes the camera and films Aaron while he sleeps. Aaron finds another DVD labelled “My Last Video” in his house. Josef, in the video, apologizes again, reveals that he found the locket in Aaron’s trash, and asks Aaron to come to the public lake by his house to “give them closure”.
Can Aaron give Josef a chance to make amends? Watch and find out…
I’m seriously not a fan of found footage films, in general they look bad due to the “shakey camera” effect and have an abundance of needless jump scares. Well, Creep followed a similar pattern but used the classic found footage tropes in a different way. For example, most (if not all) the jump scares were Josef fooling around and being obnoxious. Every time he jumped out at the screen he would laugh as if he’d “got” Aaron (or us the audience). As irritating as it was I believe that works better than trying to seriously scare a person with jump scares, which do nothing but startle and annoy. I enjoyed Creep for what it was and while you’re watching it it’s impossible to not be appalled by Aaron’s polite and accepting attitude. After several incidents you come to believe he must be an idiot. But, on reflection after finishing the film I’ve come to think of the entire situation in a different way. One of the writers said that “for me, there’s something wrong with both of these guys. Deeply. This concept of, ‘who is the creep in this scenario?’” After reading that, I started to think about each character and how Aaron’s acceptance and lack of questioning can be seen in a different way. Perhaps he’s also a weirdo. I mean, why else after each trying and sometimes terrifying moment would he stick around. Overall, this film has a creepy and uneasy atmosphere that grows as it continues on. It’s clear that something isn’t right and the story unfolds at just the right pace. One aspect of Creep that will forever be burned into my nightmares is Peachfuzz, even the name of that mask makes me shudder.