Creep (2014) created an unforgettable monster in the figure of Josef (Mark Duplass).
Superficially bright and cheerful, under the surface Josef was a toxic mess. He hired Aaron, a shy young film-maker, only to draw him into an socially awkward and increasingly sinister cat and mouse game.
Creep’s clever study of personality made us laugh as well as shudder as Josef’s cringingly peculiar worldview crept out into the light. Arguably the first chink on this vista was opened by Christian Bale’s performance in American Psycho, but Creep grabbed the doors and threw them wide open.
Creep 2 is a brilliant follow-up. Instead of a shy male film-maker we have a confident female one – Sara (Desiree Akhavan). Josef, now calling himself Aaron, admits within minutes of her arrival at his remote house that he’s a serial killer.
This renews the dynamic and results in a film that is just as riveting as the original, if not more so.
As a woman, it’s totally unbelievable that Sara stays, but the motivation is twofold. First, she’s anxious that she’s failing as a film-maker and Aaron (as I suppose we must call him now) is the best material she’s every come across.
Second, she’s extremely bold. When Aaron strips naked she calmly films his full frontal nudity. She then takes her own clothes off and invites him to film her.
In fact, Aaron has met his match in Sara. In a way, she is as much of a predator as he is, although she wants to spill people’s vulnerability on film, rather than spill their blood on the carpet.
The pair go through a bizarre romantic arc. It’s not love exactly, but eventually, I think, Sara’s boundaries erode and she begins to feel something for Aaron.
And so do we, the audience. In fact we’re more confused – Sara doesn’t think Aaron’s a murderer but we know he is. And yet we’re charmed at their pre-lapsarian frolicking, like Adam and Eve before the fall. We’re going ‘aaaaah!’ as they excitedly invent games around their mutual interest in weird shit.
The fact that Mark Duplass looks much less creepy in a beard – in fact he looks quite cute – doesn’t do any harm.
The fall, when it comes, isn’t particularly shocking or scary. As other reviewers have observed, Creep 2 has less horror in it than the first, and more character.
But what a wonderful film.