Mark Duplass is a minor demigod of mine. He is someone that is making movies – low budget, big idea movies – outside of the Hollywood rat race of cookie cutter mundaneness, that are truly mind blowing mental experiences. My favorite movie of his that we have discussed to absolute death out here is The One I Love. He’s also the brains behind Safety Not Guaranteed, The Puffy Chair, and the show I’m most stoked about that he’s participated in is Manhunt.
But recently I highlighted a movie by Duplass called Creep which was a fantastic little movie that was half improv, half inspiration. It was a movie that told the story of a Craigslist encounter between a videographer and a serial killer, or a weirdo. It was unclear. There were two individuals that comprised the entirety of this movie. It was basically an onscreen duel between Aaron the videographer answering the ad and Josef. And for the entire 90 minutes we watched as this relationship was totally unraveled and decomposed. But most of the time you make a movie with just two actors and most of the conversations are unscripted you get trash. But somehow, Mark and team avoided the normal pitfalls and managed to pull together a fascinating movie that you couldn’t have possibly anticipated.
Well, just a couple of days ago Creep 2 was released and I think, somehow, the film took a solid 9 and dialed it all the way up to an eleven.
If you haven’t seen Creep 2, but you’ve seen Creep 1 let me just say this – it is better. The interactions are better, the dialogue is better, and the philosophical insights more head-joby. For example the relationship between Sara and Josef is 100% a conversation around power dynamics between men and women. Not a subtle/meta conversation, but an in your face all out battle of the sexes. Literally. Ok, with that said, I highly recommend Creep 2.
Creep2 Spoiler Deep Dive
So yeah, I loved Creep2. I laughed, I cringed, I giggled, and I just thought the film was the perfect use of the hand held, found footage film. Lots of movies attempt to do the found footage genre of film making but don’t have a conceit that explains its use. And sans a coherent conceit? Please just buy a tripod and hire a cinematographer and call it. But the story is intricately interwoven into the handheld mindset. And it’s defined as such, “A videographer answers a Craigslist ad for $1000 to video for a day.” And there you have it. That’s how you setup a handheld, found footage use case that the audience can swallow.
Creep2’s setup is infinitely more interesting than Creep1 in that Sara is a Youtube video blogger that spends her time trying to find lonely, sad, misfits to talk to and interact with. Her ‘show’ is all about empathy and intrigue… but it’s failing tragically with 9 views of her latest video. So her final video of her first season, maybe the entire show was to answer Josef’s videographer request. Maybe the last thing she’ll do in her life.
And the movie kicks off with a bang when Josef starts off by describing himself to Sara as a life long serial killer, with 39 murders to his name up to this point. “I don’t know if he is in fact a murderer” Sara says to herself “but maybe the reason my show is sucking is because I haven’t taken enough risks.” Just like that, we understand Sara’s motivations and her drivers for the rest of the movie.
Enter the power dynamics struggle… Sara is pushing to find out more about Josef, and Josef is working hard not to give up any information. Better yet, Josef’s power dynamic is to jack with Sara’s head, and Sara’s response to that is to without a doubt not let Josef get to her. Or better yet, not let on to Josef that he is in fact getting to her. Even so much so that she is taking his crazy and flipping it back on him. It’s a game of cat and mouse.
Do you remember back in Creep 1? The relationship between Josef and Joseph? It was mainly a discussion of, what is this guy’s problem? Right? What is he going to do next?
Basically – and you can quote me on this to Mark Duplass – Creep 2 is an inverted Before Sunrise. I’m fairly proud of that sentence actually. Because it is! Before Sunrise is all about two people meeting and dancing that dance of attraction and pre-love… but in a complicated world where their stories don’t align. And Creep 2 is two lonely people dancing this dance of attraction and pre-love… but in a complicated world where one person maybe trying to kill the other. See? Same, only different. Someone has GOT to get me Mark’s email address or phone number so I can ask him about this. Come on Interwebs. We can make this happen!
Regardless, the sexual, attraction, male/female relationship piece here really adds a TON of value to this conversation that was missing in Creep 1. Especially seeing as though Sara, played by Desiree Akhavan, was an inspired casting choice. She’s happens to be a strong independent film maker in her own right. And to pit her against Mark Duplass may be some real life happening here in this casting. (Not that Mark wants to hack Desiree with an ax… this is not what I am saying here people.) But we have two strong, independent humans that both have chops in the film making world… doing the independent film thing… and we wind them up and let them go at it for 90 minutes. It’s brilliant.
Creep 2 Ending Unpacked
If you haven’t seen Creep 1 – what are you doing here? No. No no no. Go watch Creep 1. Just because you watched Creep 2 doesn’t mean you have a hall pass! Gah.
So with Creep 1 it had one of the greatest endings of all cinema. No seriously. The park bench scene… which we actually watched again in Creep 2 (which, actually now that I think about it, Creep 2 is its own worst spoiler for Creep 1. Oh yeah. NEVER MIND NON-CREEP 1 WATCHERS YOU CAN COME BACK!!!) There it is, he shows the murder scene in Creep 1 to Sara in Creep 2. Which, is so meta I don’t even know where to begin. Right?
And Creep 2, in keeping with taking everything to an eleven, Aaron stabs himself as a sign of devotion to Sara. Which, could have just been a ploy for Aaron to get Sara to kill herself in front of him? Obviously took their “relationship” up a notch that is for sure! hahah. But she hauls ass and tries to get out of there. But he chases her down and drags her body into a pit. And while Aaron is narrating to himself, to us, what he’s just done she sneaks out of the pit and cracks him hard in the head with a shovel.
Now. I literally went and found two of the special effects guys involved with Creep1 and we discussed the film a bit. And I even asked about that final scene in Creep 1 and asked how they did that final axe shot. We talked about it generally, but neither would give up the juice on how exactly that shot was made. Come on, fake ax? Wire removal? What?!? But they wouldn’t say.
BUT SERIOUSLY! How did they did that final axe shot in 1? And better yet?!? That shovel blow to the head in 2?!? I really want to know. Maybe I’ll hit some of the production staff up from 2 this weekend to see if I can track anything down. Hrm.
Regardless of the faux shovel question – I thought the ending of 2 was a sweet double back from 1. And then for the camera to follow Sara on the streets? Fantastically clever ending. Does this setup a Creep 3 between Sara and Aaron? But this one from Sara’s perspective hunting down Aaron? That would be a great flip imho.
Anyway, what did you guys think of the movie? Sure, it wasn’t an Oscar worthy movie, but it was a great little indie cat and mouse game. And I really enjoyed the level of thought and detail put into it. But again, I’m a serious Duplass fan-boy so I have no idea how to be objective on this one.