Creep, Directed by Patrick Brice

What is it that makes a horror movie great? Is it masked villains and gallons of blood, like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Is it crafty allegorical storytelling, like It Follows or The Babadook? Is it shocking twists that hide in plain sight, like The Others or The Sixth Sense? While all of these have their merits in the genre, for me, there is one device that sets a horror movie apart from the rest. The insidious overwhelming feeling of dread.

Two of my favorite horror movies are Rosemary’s Baby and The Blair Witch Project. What those two films masterfully create is the relatable, yet horrifying, feeling that something is very, very wrong. While jump scares, ghosts, and monsters do their part in the moment, for me it’s the slow-burning psychological horror that gets under my skin and keeps me up at night. Creep, directed by Patrick Brice, proves that once again, great acting and an undeniable sense of dread are a recipe for a successful thriller.

Creep has a simple enough plot. Aaron (Patrick Brice), a videographer responds to a Craigslist ad offering $1,000 for one day’s work, with the caveat of discretion. Aaron meets the ad’s poster, Josef (Mark Duplass), in a remote cabin, where he explains the video project. The idea is that Josef has been diagnosed with some kind of terminal cancer and is making a video to leave behind to his unborn son.

From our very first encounter with Josef it is clear that something is off. Rather than meeting Aaron at the door, Josef sneaks around and pops up suddenly outside of his car window. Throughout the day, Josef keeps pulling these little ‘run away and then jump out and say boo’ stunts. What you might be thinking is, “didn’t he just say this movie wasn’t about jump scares?”, but here’s why it works.

Director Patrick Brice, uses all the horror movie advantages that come with found footage (the narrow perspective, the breathless shaky camera work, the immersive feeling of being in the scene), but it’s not the manipulative camera work that make the jump scares uniquely successful. It’s the self-awareness and believability of the character. It’s not the film scaring the audience, it’s Josef scaring Aaron. We know why a film would want you to jump when it says boo, but why does Josef?

As the plot unfolds, Josef’s behavior becomes increasingly more bizarre and unsettling. This includes, but is not limited to, pretending to take a bath with his unborn child on camera, donning a wildly creepy wolf-mask, named Peach Fuzz, and drastically and disturbingly overselling the two men’s friendship in a stalker/stage-five clinger, sort of a way.

I won’t delve into the details of the plot too much, but the main tension in the film is whether Josef is simply a strange, lonely man awkwardly and desperately trying to find a friend, or if he’s something much more sinister. The film deftly balances this tension right up until the very last scene.

Creep is as much a character study as it is a thriller. With only two actors, it has a small and personal feel, and is able to pull off a lot with what appears to be a limited budget. My only complaint with the film is the protagonist Aaron (Brice), seems to be somewhat of an incomplete character, who has only a few moments where he comes to life. In fact, everything interesting about the character is bluntly pointed out by Josef in the film’s final minutes. Fortunately, Duplass (The League, Safety Not Guaranteed) is able to carry the load.

Duplass gives the performance of his career (so far) by taking your typical horror-movie-creep, and turning the character into someone as complex and interesting as Norman Bates. Josef, if that is his real name, is a character as outlandish as he is duplicitous, as he is sympathetic. A performance you won’t soon forget.

Will Creep go down in history as one of the greats in the horror genre? I doubt it. But, it offers the unique experience of being darkly humorous, strangely relatable, and deeply disturbing, and had me nervously laughing while I watched through splayed fingers, through all 77 minutes.

Creep is currently available to stream on Netflix.

 

 

 

Films of the 21st Century

Top 25 films of the 21st century:

  1. In Bruges (Martin McDonagh)
  2. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  3. The Social Network (David Fincher)
  4. Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
  5. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
  6. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
  7. No Country For Old Men (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  8. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  9. Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)
  10. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
  11. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
  12. Lucky Number Slevin (Paul McGuigan)
  13. The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson)
  14. Inside Out (Pete Docter)
  15. Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott)
  16. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
  17. City of God (Fernando Meirelles)
  18. Memento (Christopher Nolan)
  19. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
  20. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
  21. Gladiator (Ridley Scott)
  22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  23. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
  24. 3:10 To Yuma (James Mangold)
  25. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)

Top films of the 21st century Honorable Mention:

  • Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
  • The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
  • The Town (Ben Affleck)
  • The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
  • Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
  • The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
  • Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)
  • Avatar (James Cameron)
  • The Big Short (Adam McKay)
  • Inside Man (Spike Lee)
  • Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)

 

Top 10 Comedy Films of the 21st century:

  1. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  2. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
  3. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow)
  4. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  5. Sideways (Alexander Payne)
  6. Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)
  7. Juno (Jason Reitman)
  8. The Wolf of Wallstreet (Martin Scorsese)
  9. Mean Girls (Mark Waters)
  10. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

Top 10 Horror Films of the 21st century:

  1. Let the Right One in (Tomas Alfredson)
  2. The Witch (Robert Eggers)
  3. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
  4. Paranormal Activity 3 (Ariel Schulman)
  5. The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard)
  6. The Others (Alejandro Amenábar)
  7. It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)
  8. The Mist (Frank Darabont)
  9. American Psycho (Mary Harron)
  10. Saw (James Wan)

Top 10 films of the 21st century that I Could Watch Over and Over Again:

  1. The Social Network (David Fincher)
  2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird)
  3. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
  4. Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)
  5. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
  6. Chef (Jon Favreau)
  7. Troy (Wolfgang Peterson)
  8. Mean Girls (Mark Waters)
  9. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow)
  10. 8 Mile (Curtis Hanson)

Top 10 Romance Films of the 21st century:

  1. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  2. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  3. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russel)
  4. Brooklyn (John Crowley)
  5. Juno (Jason Reitman)
  6. Her (Spike Jonze)
  7. 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb)
  8. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
  9. The Spectacular Now (James Ponsoldt)
  10. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)

Top 10 Sports Films  of the 21st century:

  1. Friday Night Lights (Peter Berg)
  2. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
  3. Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
  4. Lords of Dogtown (Catherine Hardwicke)
  5. Warrior (Gavin O’Connor)
  6. Creed (Ryan Coogler)
  7. Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood
  8. Fighter (David O. Russell)
  9. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
  10. Hardball (Brian Robbins)

Top 10 Animated Films  of the 21st century:

  1. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
  2. Inside out (Pete Docter)
  3. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
  4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
  5. Shrek (Vicky Jenson, Andrew Adamson)
  6. Up (Pete Docter, Bob Peterson)
  7. Wall-E (Andrew Stanton)
  8. Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush)
  9. Monsters, Inc. (Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, David Silverman)
  10. The Incredibles (Brad Bird)

Top 10 War Films  of the 21st century:

  1. Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
  2. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
  3. Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott)
  4. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood)
  5. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
  6. Enemy at the Gates (Jean-Jacques Annaud)
  7. Troy (Wolfgang Peterson)
  8. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
  9. The Pianist (Roman Polanski)
  10. Beasts Of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)

Top 10 Music Films of the 21st century:

  1. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  3. Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper)
  4. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
  5. 8 Mile (Curtis Hanson)
  6. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  7. Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray)
  8. Walk The Line (James Mangold)
  9. School of Rock (Richard Linklater)
  10. Ray (Taylor Hackford)

Top 10 Science Fiction Films of the 21st century:

  1. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
  2. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
  4. Avatar (James Cameron)
  5. Minority Report (Steven Spielberg)
  6. The Martian (Ridley Scott)
  7. Source Code (Duncan Jones)
  8. 28 Days later (Danny Boyle)
  9. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
  10. Signs (M. Night Shyamalan)

Top 5 Found Footage films of the 21st century:

  1. End of Watch (David Ayer)
  2. Cloverfield (Matt Reeves)
  3. Paranormal Activity 3 (Ariel Schulman)
  4. Chronicle (Josh Trank)
  5. Paranormal Activity (Ariel Schulman)

Top 10 Hidden Gems of the 21st century:

  1. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  2. Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)
  3. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
  4. Chef (Jon Favreau)
  5. Safety Not Guaranteed (Colin Trevorrow)
  6. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
  7. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Macon Blair)
  8. Punch Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  9.  The Spectacular Now (James Ponsoldt)
  10. Stranger than Fiction (Marc Forster)

Top 10 Obscene-Budget-Action-Explosion-Pump-Up Guilty Pleasure films of the 21st century:

  1. Inception (Christopher Nolan)
  2. Apocalypto (Mel Gibson)
  3. Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird)
  4. Crank (Brian Taylor)
  5. Furious 7 (James Wan)
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gun)
  7. Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro)
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
  9. Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino)
  10. John Wick (Chad Stahelski, David Leitch)

This Just In

If movies could be summarized in one newspaper headline…

 

**possible spoilers**

The Dark Knight:

Billionaire dresses up as bat; beats up clown.

Psycho:

B&B owner/Momma’s boy linked to dozens of missing persons.

Signs:

Extraterrestrials invade planet that is 70% water despite being allergic to water.

Whiplash:

Rude music teacher ruins concert

There Will Be Blood:

Ambitious prospector strikes oil; drinks local preacher’s milkshake.

American Beauty: 

Gay murderer’s son films plastic bag

Citizen Kane:

Newspaper tycoon owned sled as child

Requiem for a Dream:

Three teens do heroin; ruin everyone’s weekend.

Gran Torino:

Local racist befriends car thief.

A Beautiful Mind:

Schizo reforms game theory.

The Sixth Sense:

Dead psychologist councils local medium.

12 Years a Slave:

“150 years later, slavery is still bad” experts report.

The Lord of the Rings: 

Midget walks barefoot across continent; throws jewelry into volcano.

The Shawshank Redemption:

Interview with escaped convict reports, “Prison not so bad. I’m besties with Morgan Freeman.”

 

Next Year at the Oscars

The last two Academy Awards have been filled to the brim with exceptional films  and actors, but how will Hollywood maintain this standard of excellence without any new original ideas? How will the directors, writers and actors on the B and C list compete? What diversity will the protagonist of the best picture overcome? I invite you to an exclusive sneak preview about some ground breaking films that will be coming soon to a theater near you.

Citizen Kane in 3D. 

Digitally remastered to bring you the same excruciatingly boring plot for twice the price of admission. Now with ninety minutes of bonus footage.  Why not let a classic remain untouched? Because everything is better in 3D.

Finding Nemo 2: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Join Nemo, Dori, Marlin, the and the rest of the gang for a whole new adventure when Nemo’s spring break trip to the Gulf of Mexico takes an unexpected turn.

Mean Girls: The Untold Saga of Glen Coco

In this psychological thriller, Glen Coco, a sure winner of Spring Fling King, has the crown ripped unjustly from him and placed atop the head of his arch-nemesis, Shane Oman. Glen, distraught from the unprecedented loss, begins digging and uncovers a sinister student government conspiracy that stretches from the sexually active band geeks all the way to the plastics. Glen Coco will stop at nothing to restore his good name, but in a school where no one can be trusted and nothing is what it seems, how far is too far?

Spiderman Again

Same plot. Same Arachnid. Same drama. Totally different cast. Because coming up with new ideas is super hard.

Explosions

From visionary director, Michael Bay, comes a blockbuster hit about Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson and his fight to save a densely populated North American city from a bunch of enormous robots/aliens. Recovering from the initial attack and completely out of ideas, the U.S. government turns to an ex-convict/survivalist/NASCAR driver and his smokin’ hot girlfriend for help. Will bazookas and huge muscles be enough to stop the robot/alien menace?        Yeah, probably.

Affluenza 

The story of that rich dick-bag kid, Ethan Couch, who ran over those people with his car, and the lawyer that came up with the Affluenza (spoiled rotten) defense that got him off the hook. Starring Joffrey from Game of Thrones as Ethan Couch.

The Longest Ride

Another Nicholas Sparks book turned into a Valentine’s day date. Its going to be romantic. Its going to be depressing. Your girlfriend is going to want to see it.

Oscar

Named after the best picture nomination it will undoubtedly receive, this fictional bio-pic tells the story of Oscar, a Gay-Jewish-Black-HIV positive- Slave/Holocaust survivor, who despite aging in reverse and having a terrible stutter, eventually grows up to be a victim in the 9/11 attacks. Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

Her, Directed by Spike Jonze

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Spike Jonze’s new film, Her, covers the strange and unlikely romantic relationship between Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and his operating system. It has been a critical success and aside from a few extremely uncomfortable scenes, was one of the better movies I have seen this year.

Although the film is essentially about a man being in love with his computer, I did not find the plot unbelievable at all. In fact, the only part I was skeptical of was that Joaquin Phoenix would ever have a chance to go home with Olivia Wilde when he’s rockin’ a pedophile mustache that would give Jerry Sandusky the creeps. But the idea of someone falling in love with their operating system is not entirely far-fetched. I mean, personally, I think SIRI is a total B-word, but give her the ability to feel, learn, joke, love, and Scarlett Johansson’s voice… we’ve got ourselves a whole different kind of situation.

Even  if you could never see yourself having phone sex with Scarlett’s bodiless voice,  I am sure you can at least buy one of the underlining metaphors of the film. The film basically reflects the increasing disengagement that us humans have with our physical surroundings and the way we are dependent on technology.  How many times have you seen multiple people sitting next to each other but  all fully immersed in their iPhones? And how often have you been to a concert where, instead of watching the show, everyone is snapchatting it to someone else? We get so caught up in the thousands of conversations we have online or via text message, that we forget about our actual lives. In fact, this metaphor becomes even more apparent when the operating system herself isn’t even satisfied with one conversation.

SPOILER ALERT: The operating system ends up maintaining some astronomical amount of simultaneous conversations and even falling in love with a number of them, which she confesses to Theodore Twombly towards the end of the film. Her does a good job of subtly explaining how we are rapidly losing our interpersonal skills and in a not-so-distant-future might be able to get by without any real human contact whatsoever.

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Phoenix does a great job of getting the audience to generally feel his emotions and pain and you find yourself rooting for the success of his unusual relationship. The operating system, Samantha, breaks your heart with her Pinocchio-esque need to be a real human. She feels that the only difference between her and a human is her body, or lack thereof and she wants so badly to be able to touch and feel Theodore, but sadly she cannot.

It may seem ridiculous, but  midway through the film I actually started to see the operating system as a human and it really got me thinking. If an artificial intelligence has the capacity to learn, and feel and even have original thoughts, why couldn’t you consider it a human? It was Descartes, one of the most famous philosophers of all time, who said, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” which translates to “I think, therefore I am.”  Can Samantha, the operating system not think? Is she not self-aware? Did she not name herself Samantha!? You may argue that the difference between her and a human is the five senses. Well Samantha can’t taste, smell or touch but she can hear and see through the microphone and camera lens of Theodore’s cellphone. Would you say that a person born without a sense of taste or smell is any less human?

Now, I am not here to say that the operating system is a human or not, but I was certainly impressed with the way Her made me question what it is to be human. Despite me ruining a solid portion of the plot, if you have not seen it already, I highly recommend the film. If not for the poetic dialogue, the exceptional acting, or seeing Amy Adams in an almost unrecognizable role, then see it for some information about an innovative new use for dead cats.