Mark Duplass Movie Creep Is Fascinating Beginning to End
Creep is an amazingly good no-budget movie that will make Duplass and Brice piles and piles of cash for the investment the put into it. But I really did enjoy it. It's a must see movie from the Duplass oeuvre.
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Mark Duplass Movie Creep Is Fascinating Beginning to End

I adore experimental movies. Adore is actually too soft a word. I ebullient experimental movies. I evanescent experimental movies. I giddy experimental movies. You get the idea.

Lots and lots of amazing can happen when you have a good idea, good writing, and a core group of friends to help you pull off your little tableau. I’ve talked and talked and talked about how the recent explosion of super heroes movies have deadened our senses for what really matters. Which is good characters. Good situations and ideas. Good writing. Marvel seems to think that McGuffins + CGI Explosions = Good Movie. But I couldn’t disagree more.

Which brings us to the most raw, most minimalist of tests to my opinion of what makes a good movie. Creep. I have loudly spoken out about my adoration for Mark Duplass and the Duplass brothers. My obsessive love affair with Mark started when I found “The One I Love“. And I would probably argue that The One I Love is my go to movie recommendation when people ask what THinc. is all about. “It’s about independent movies that make the audience think… a great example? Easy, The One I Love.” That conversation literally happens once a week. At the very least. Sure, I could drop in a million other movies we talk about here, but that one exudes a surety and aplombness about itself that others don’t have.

Well, I had thought I’d seen every Duplass movie. Until Tanya, a reader here, emailed me about… what? Personal Shopper I think. There’s a section in my review that is all jacked up, and I need to fix it. And she was kind enough to walk me through my mistake. Anyway, we ended up chatting about other cool/strange/creepy movies and alighted upon the Duplass brothers momentarily as these conversations usually do at one point or other. And then Tanya said this:

“Yes – I saw ‘The one I love’ – very interesting – I have to say – I do enjoy most of what the Duplass brothers offer – as in ‘Creep‘ – that is a good one!”

And as I was reading the email my brain was like, yup, good one, ok moving on. Wha-WHAT? Creep? I’ve never heard of Creep before!?! And so, I spent 4 days downloading the movie in order to watch it last night. Yes, the interwebs at this particular location of Haiti are atrocious.

High Level Overview of Creep

The gist of this film is simple enough. Aaron responds to a Craig’s List ad from Josef, who is looking for a videographer for the day. Eight hours. Josef is apparently dying of brain tumor and would like to record some thoughts for his unborn child before he dies. But all is not as it seems here in Creep-ville…

How Was Creep Made?

I just have to get this off my chest really fast. This movie, literally is, Catfish. The ‘documentary’, ‘meta-mockumentary’?, movie about a budding romance on Facebook? You’ve heard of it right? I’ve told you about it already… don’t make me repeat myself people! The feel, the storyline, pretty much everything. I’d actually be shocked to to find out that Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice weren’t influenced by Catfish at least in some small way.

One of things that I absolutely adored about this movie was that Mark Duplass’ nanny’s husband is Patrick. And Patrick was a recent graduate of CalArts, I think it was anyway, and the two of them were just talking about possible movies. And what movie Patrick would make if here were to make his first. (Talk about an awesome in… and a serious bonus to have your Nanny-in-law be Mark Duplass?!? But I digress)

So they stumbled on this idea of a Craigslist encounter gone wrong, and Patrick had a cabin up in the woods (probably somewhere near Big Bear California I’d imagine? I grew up running through those woods) that they thought they could use. So they took a week out and improvised this movie off a five page treatment outline that they had created. Then the duo connected with Jason Blume (who only produced, Whiplash and Split, and a number of other movies you’d know if I fired them at you) and formed and shaped it into the movie we have today. And it is this level of guerrilla movie making that I adore and love.

High Level Walk Through of Creep

The movie kicks off with Aaron driving up to meet with Josef after having accepted a position off of Craigslist as a videographer. The job listing basically said that they were looking for an 8 hour videographer to video Josef for the day. Simple enough. Until, that is, Aaron gets up there and learns that Josef is a hot mess.

Apparently, Josef had been diagnosed with cancer in his lungs and liver but had beaten it. It was in remission. Until it came back and manifested itself as a baseball sized tumor in his brain. And so, he had hired Aaron to video his thoughts and feelings before he died, so he could leave the video for his to be born son.

I will admit right here, that one of the things that I was not a fan of was the obvious ad-libbing going on. It was almost as if there wasn’t enough content to go around, and so the guys were doing their best to push spread not enough paint across a too big of a canvass. Case in point number one… Tubby Time? The bathroom scene sort of wigged me out a little. Like, serious heebs. If this were real life… I would never, not in a million years, taken that camera into that bathroom. Nope. Not gonna do it. Not even with a buddy filming a movie. So all I was thinking about was these two friends doing this weird, awkward scene together that just was wrong. Like, weird and wrong. And yet, I guarantee you, I’ll get comments on this post saying, TUBBY TIME SOLD ME ON JOSEF. I just know it. Which is cool. I get it. But wow, suspension of reality for me was thrown out the window with that particular scene. Ok?

Regardless, their encounters range far and wide, from hiking, to having lunch, to wolf mask tales, to romping in the mountain stream. All the while, Aaron is videoing and capturing this encounter for Josef’s yet to be born son.

Later that night, after drinks, Josef wants to admit something to Aaron. So Aaron puts the camera down, but doesn’t stop recording. “Is the camera off?” “Yes, the camera is off.” We hear Aaron say. And there, with the covered up lens, we here Josef tell the ‘real’ story of the wolf mask. How he began to believe his wife was into animal porn. So one day he buys the wolf mask at the dollar store and sneaks into the house and ‘rapes’ his wife. Which, she loved apparently. And it’s right here, at about the half way point, that the story begins to turn. I have to admit, I thought it a bold choice to tell the audience a 3 minute story with the camera lens covered. So kudos to them for the realism there and the cleverness that amped up the story significantly at that point.

But when Aaron goes to leave his keys are gone. Josef convinces Aaron to stay through the night, and look for his keys in the morning. Well, obviously, Josef had taken the keys in order to get Aaron to stay longer. Long story short, Aaron eventually leaves, and their ‘relationship’ continues well after the video gig had ended. Which, I thought was a very clever play and really took the story to a new level. It was only after the scenes at the cabin that things really started to feel much more professional and extraordinarily good in my opinion.

So Aaron begins receiving packages in the mail from Josef. The first was just of Aaron digging in the woods… digging his grave apparently. And Aaron continues to video each of these encounters. And when he receives the knife, and the wolf stuffed animal, and the locket that was inside the wolf that Aaron decides to contact the police. But when he’s talking to the police he realizes he isn’t even sure if Josef is his real name, oh and by the way, he found out that Josef had just rented that cabin. So that isn’t Josef’s address. He knows nothing about this man.

One of my favorite scenes of the movie was definitely where Aaron is talking into the camera in the middle of the night. Then Aaron is startled out of bed by a large noise. He jumps up and gets a knife, and runs off to another part of the house. And there, standing in the door, is Josef. Aaron never sees Josef, but the camera sees him as clear as day. And then Aaron heads out to the side of the house  to find his trash had been rummaged through. And it’s after this that Aaron’s camera spontaneously turns on and films him sleeping, and then proceeds to cut some of his hair off.

It’s at this point of the movie that Creep starts to take on a feeling of the movie Coherence, or better yet The Invitation! Hahah. If you haven’t seen those two movies, just stop reading this review and go find them, and then come back so we can talk. Please. Thanks.

When Aaron awakes, he finds a DVD inserted into the torn screen of his window. And on the video it says, “My Last Video”. And on the video Josef bemoans the fact that he found the previous video he had sent, as well as the heart necklace in Aaron’s trash can. “When I found those things in your trash can I had some inappropriate thoughts about what I wanted to do to you….. and to myself.” So yeah, while the first half of this movie is a little bit of a cheese-fest, the second half amps up the thrills. And it culminates in this spit-balled-ad-libbed monologue from Mark Duplass that is off the charts good. It is this single soliloquy that 100% makes this movie. Sells it. And hits it completely out of the park.

Basically in this final video from Josef, he says that while he was initially mad about Aaron’s throwing away his stuff, ultimately he understands why did it. “You don’t know me.” And he goes on to say that he wants to be honest and tell the truth for once in his life. And the truth is, he has no friends. The truth is he’s been to doctors for help, and there have been medications. But he’s alone and he wants someone to talk to about it. And so Josef invites Aaron up to the lake, in this public place to talk… tomorrow at eleven.  “Because the truth is, I’m a lonely person… and a sad person.” Brilliant. Such a brilliant play.

And so like a complete and total idiot… Aaron heads back up to the park like Josef asked, and he sits on the park bench. Sets the camcorder to record from the car – and ends up getting hacked to death by the wolf that is Josef. As the seen freeze frames it cuts back to Josef watching and rewatching the murder. We see him place the DVD on a shelf with a pile of other videos he had captured before.

Thoughts and Theories about the Ending of Mark Duplass’ Creep

I would love to make a movie like this. Take a clever idea like this one (even if a Catfish remake) and let it fling into the wind. What makes this movie happen, what really brings this thing to life is that Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass have zero fear. They corn ball some dialogue with the faith that their idea and their story will hold it all together. And it really does. As I’ve said before, I wasn’t a huge fan of the beginning, but the story definitely gets better as the intensity ratchets up and up. Mark’s portrayal of Josef as an unwitting and clueless doofus actually works well here. Adds a layer of fear here that you don’t normally see in movies like this one.

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16 Responses

  1. De Advocate

    I just caught this, and in doing the requisite Wikipedia search found out Creep 2 is in the works and possibly it will be a trilogy. I was literally on the edge of my seat this whole movie. The great thing about Duplass films are the fact you can never see what’s coming (or isn’t coming).
    I think it nailed the scariest thing about the serial killer and that is they are simply people. Not demons, not cartoonish evil geniuses. Just people. Maybe many people can sense what is off about them, which Aaron clearly didn’t have. But it is wise to listen to your inner radar, when the hair on your neck goes up, maybe take a rain check on that whiskey man! (also found out Duplass produced The Lazarus Effect, and was in it. Will have to watch that again…)
    Josef is probably the scariest horror movie killer out there. Some of that dialogue gave me the creeps.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Yeah,
      I saw that too. Duplass even tweeted that he was trying on costume stuff for the movie and that the movie would be ultra weird? Hahah. That just is too funny even to really express. Weirder than Creep?!? hahaha. I did tweet out to R. Zane Rutledge, who is the guy that did the special effects for Creep to ask how Duplass did the end axe scene. We chatted about a few other things… but he didn’t answer my question. Still curious about that.

      If you like movies like this, where the bad guy is just a person – you really ought to check out They Look Like People. https://taylorholmes.com/2016/11/01/must-see-movie-they-look-like-people-explained-and-discussed/ – really really good. And an equally surprising ending. Had a great chat with the two leads on Twitter as well, which I posted on another post around here somewhere. Anyway. Great movie that.

      Reply
      • De Advocate

        I did catch that one, we chatted about it on here briefly (I still don’t think he killed her)

      • Taylor Holmes

        Sorry chief.
        In real life, that kinda flub would totally embarrass the hell out of me. Like, I’d be kicking myself for a week. I pride myself on knowing who I talk to about what. But out here on the site… gah. It’s very difficult to keep you all straight! I mean, don’t get me wrong, when I see De posted, I’m like, sweet. My man. But as for what movies we’ve talked about!??! Nope, apparently, I suck.

        My bad. (And by the by, he totally did kill her lamer. hahaha.) If we talked about that, then we probably talked about If There’s a Hell Below. But did you see Shimmer Lake or maybe, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World? Both really similar to those two. (Am I redeeming myself yet?) Or Pulp Fiction maybe? Hahahahah. That’s kind of a good one. Or what about the movie E.T., you know, the one with the Reese’s Pieces?

        OH MY gosh… there was a blog I read the other day about the pronunciation of Reese’s that had me in stitches. THIS will make it up to you… gonna go find it. TADDA! I return bearing GIFTS!

        http://kitchenette.jezebel.com/how-do-you-pronounce-reeses-1712708401

        I howled reading this. Absolutely, projectile cried. (Could be building it up a bit much, but alas. This is my lot in life.) By the way, I don’t see a lower case a in your name. Looks upper case to me.
        t

        (Just kidding, I changed it.)

  2. De Advocate

    Oh yeah, I second the vote, I would have been out of there during Tubby Time too. That was weird beyond weird.

    Reply
  3. De Advocate

    By the by…De Advocate and De advocate are both me. Lower case is when I’m on my tablet for some reason.

    Reply
  4. De Advocate

    Hey man, I was going to preface my comment with something acknowleding how hard it must be to keep track of all the chatter. As in it must be very tough. So, no worries. Consider everyone here has some pretentious prick nickname (like De advocate for shit’s sake!) With no context or face to form a relationship (in a spaciel sense, like for example how hard it even is to recognise your UPS guy if he is somewhere wearing regular clothes and away from his delivery truck). I give you kudos for even vagually remembering me!

    Reply
  5. De Advocate

    Remember the old Hannah Barbera cartoon, “I hate meese’s to pieces!” ? Says the cat to the mouse, or just out loud. I could be dating myself here. I love Reesies to peesies LOL!

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      You are cracking me up here. Totally missed this getting posted. And of course I remember you SPECIFICALLY but sometimes like 20-30% comment or come back to see new posts. Only like 10% are active on multiple posts because they watch what I am recommending. Just like 1 or 2 percent comment on multiple posts. So usually I keep the movie comments straight I am ok! I remember people in context of what the movie positions and sides are. Right? The Prestige, did the machine work or not? Oh, De is a teleporter theorist. And Sarah is a duplicator. But as soon as you walk away from that movie? Much, if not all, of the context is gone! Hahaha.

      Ah well. But thanks for the laughs regardless.

      Reply
  6. De Advocate

    Also, my spell checker socks bulls. (Think Johnny Dangerously) Why on Earth would it offer me my own misspelled word as the first option? Vaguely. There may be otters. OTHERS! Shit. I am going to bed now.

    Reply
  7. Daniel Yun

    I don’t know Taylor. The movie wasn’t the real go getter for me mainly because of the sometimes really pointless, unnecessary jump scares.

    Like in the first scene after Aaron arrives at the cabin. He’s still in his car, the camera pans to the right and then suddenly WHAM Josef comes in like a thunder and I immediately went “Oh, is this one of “those” movies…” When movies intentionally raise the volume in a certain frame to make you jump that’s not really relevant to the story itself, it puts me off. Like a lot. Because I appreciate creepy, eerie movies that really get in my head, not cheap thrills that rely on jump scares to keep the audience “excited”

    But I could let the first jump-scare by; I only watched like 5 minutes into the movie, not fair to really judge it by its opening scene. But then came some really, pointless jump scares. I don’t mind the one Josef did to Aaron in the woods because that scene was crucial to the story in hindsight because they built up from that. Josef saw the “baby murder” in Aaron, Aaron started to have nightmares where he was mini peach fuzz, Josef sent the wolf stuffing, etc.

    But how about that scene where Josef convinces Aaron to stay for one more drink while they were climbing the stairs? (I actually really loved this scene, the way Josef was silhouetted and he was just a solid, black figure. I later found out that that they actually used the moment from this scene as the cover picture for the movie “Creep”) So you convince a guy, who already made a fair judgment that you are a creep and doesn’t want to stay another few minutes with you, to stay for one drink, and you try to scare him right off the bat? If I was Aaron, I seriously would have just punched him, called him an asshole, and left. I was so mad for Aaron, and as an audience to have to sit through this cheap scare that did not even make sense to portray in the movie.

    The rest of the movie was interesting to say the least. The whole grabbing the camera and filming while the person is sleeping reminded me of the 2012 movie V/H/S “Second Honeymoon” short, where somebody grabs a couple’s camera and starts filming them sleeping and other shenanigans. When Josef, or more Mark I think actually in this scene, makes another pointless jump scare after he watches the footage of him killing Aaron, who was he trying to scare? Aaron? Himself? What was the point of that in the story? I didn’t see any— it was just meant to scare the audience, and quite frankly, anybody can scare us like that.

    Am I being too sour? I am making this criticism because in my opinion, I would have enjoyed the movie a lot more without these scares. I think it was a well-made movie in that the dialogue was mostly real and natural, the movie did experiments which I think worked, and Mark and Patrick did a great job acting. I was just put off by some scares, and quite frankly pulled out of some parts of the movie by making me think “Well, something’s definitely going to pop out and try to scare me; they’ve been doing that throughout the whole movie, why not now?” I was surprised you didn’t mention anything about the jump scares so I was wondering your thoughts on those. Now that I read what I wrote, I do kind of sound like a whiney audience who doesn’t like being scared, but I actually do. Mainly why I picked up this film! Anyways, enjoyed your comments to the movie nonetheless, thanks for reading my rant haha

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey Daniel,
      Fair comments all. But this movie feels like something that you and I could make for the first 40 minutes. Literally. No different. UNTIL, they leave the cabin. And then the editing is really tight. The shots are tighter. The writing is tighter. I swear to you I wasn’t going to mention the movie to you all until it came down the the last half, and then, the ending? The ending is a homerun.

      And to be honest, I didn’t even notice the “jump scares”. I guess I’m calloused. Hahah. I was just like, funny. But I didn’t see them as scary because I didn’t feel like Josef was a threat … yet. It just wasn’t. So I didn’t even realize it might be scary to some people. Which, having you call it out makes sense to me. I literally was so wigged by Tubby Time, or whatever, that a BILLION jump scares couldn’t compare. (And now I’m building it up like it was scary or something. It was just a guy ad-libbing in a tub. It was the ad-libbing that wigged me out to be honest. hah.)

      Anyway, if you didn’t make it that far in, just jump to about minute 30. They go on a hike. They start up a friendship. They lose that friendship. He steals the keys. But jump ahead a bit and see what you think of the ending. I promise you it’s worth a shot. I really do dig this film having seen the whole thing start to finish. It’s well played.

      Reply
      • Daniel Yun

        Thanks for stopping by,

        Oh, I did finish the film, from the beginning to the end. That was my reaction to the whole movie.

        I’m actually surprised that you didn’t notice the jump scares since they stood out too much for me. But I guess that’s just the type of person I am, and you are the type of person you are.

        I actually think the Tubby Time scene worked for its purpose since the whole scene was just awkward, weird, and uncomfortable (whether it was the acting or the whole ad-libbing) And like you said, no one would ever go into a bathroom with a camera and film that. But Aaron did (To be fair, he didn’t know what he was going into) and Josef did what he did in that scene. Like seriously abnormal, unrealistic, creepy motions and expressions. (Uh-oh, my whiney senses are tingling, remember when Josef scared Aaron in the tub too? Necessary? Maybe…Disliked? Yes.) The scene worked because that was just hella weird. Who cares if it was the acting, or the circumstances, or the ad-lib. IT WAS WEIRD. So it worked for me like that.

        I admire your passion for this movie though haha and for that, I’m going to watch The One I Love for my next movie.

        You have a great day man 🙂

  8. Taylor Holmes

    Daniel,
    I guarantee you – even with our perceptions and tastes so different? You will like The One I love. Promise. It’s 100% thing.

    Post somewhere about it after you watch and let me know what you think of it. Creep is so experimental and low budget and so low wattage. But even though the one I love was made in a similar way, it was nothing, nothing like it.

    Can’t wait to hear what you think of it.
    Taylor

    Reply

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