I just saw Creeper and I feel like Iíve been put through the same ordeal as a few of the characters! The film takes its cues from recent cult fare such as Bitchslap and Fatherís Day in that its a mix of genres and a mixed bag. It starts out as a tepid thriller, morphs into a horror movie, then into a revenge flick and ends as a Rambo style action piece. If this sounds a little confusing, believe me it isnít. Youíll have plenty of time to figure everything out.
Let me step back a minute. Creeper is by no means a bad movie. In fact itís pretty entertaining at times and that is what is so frustrating about it. There is so much opportunity and promise squandered by lackadaisical pacing and wretched acting. The movie opens with an original score and good production value. The foreboding title sequence promises cheesy grindhouse delights. Unfortunately things go south almost immediately when we are introduced to the most detestable pair of squabbling biddies imaginable. We are forced to bare witness as they go on for almost ten minutes about how much they hate men. We hear trash. We hear bile. We hear filth.
It was clear to me right away that these couldnít be the main characters. Imagine my surprise when the next scene introduced me to MORE abhorrent vapid bitches. All women hate men and are nothing more than stereotypes, there isnít one single character that the audience can identify with. Here is our plot, simple as it is. A group of loosely connected women (all seeming to despise one another) decide to find a man online and ruin his life because they have been treated poorly by men in the past.
This harem of horror soon finds Jerry Tobin, an ex-Vietnam veteran who is seemingly handicapped. Lonely Jerry quickly becomes a target for their scheme and is tricked into doing all sorts of unspeakable things to see their naked bodies. He debases himself by eating shit, shaving his genitals, and electrocuting himself among other things.
Here the movie becomes about how far will they go. The girls start to become obsessed with how far they can push Jerry who seems to have no limits or standards. There is obviously something mentally wrong with him but the girls objectify him and rationalize their actions as a sort of revenge against the general male chauvinist architype. At this point I was mildly engaged with the movie. Despite its flaws I was interested to see where things went. The problem is that every scene plays out far too long. We are treated to this torture for what seems like hours.
Finally things seem to come to a head mid-way through the film. At this point the film had me. I knew the film couldnít end yet but I had no idea where things were headed. At this point the film suddenly transforms into a revenge horror film and things get even more interesting. Unfortunately the editing gets in the way again. The second half of the film goes on FOREVER. The film reminds me of Wes Cravenís Red Eye and clumsy hitman Cillian Murphy who seemingly has the worst luck in the world. Similarly Jerry goes for his revenge and seems to bungle everything, every time.
To make matters worse the perspective seems to constantly shift for the viewer. One moment we are seemingly viewing things with the girls, then the next we are on Jerryís side watching things play out. Its confusing because you know you are supposed to hate the girls yet they arenít getting hacked to pieces for what they did earlier so the question becomes, what is the point!?!
The main issue with the film is one of identity. Creeper is shot in a scratchy, grindhouse type of manner. There are color distortions and jumps in the frame. The trashy acting and rampant nudity fits with this style, however the focus on technology (the women find Jerry on a website and all of the torture takes place via webcam) is distracting and incongruous. The film also pulls back where it should push on the gas. There are several moments where something shocking happens yet we donít get to see the action, only the reaction. This is not what a grindhouse film is.
Creeper also seems to be slightly misogynistic. Every female character is a repugnant, man hating sadist. Not only do they loathe men, they hate each other. Many of the female characters are introduced only to be a display for nubile young flesh. They have no names or purposes. By the end of the film I was taken aback by how much skin was on display. However in the 3rd act where we are supposed to be enjoying their destruction, we are suddenly thrust into their eyes. This is mystifying and awkward.
Creeper has many positives. The effects are tastefully handled and well shot. The camera doesnít linger on the digital gore for long enough for you to notice its falsity. When the violence finally happens it is swift and brutal. Jerry is well cast. He is a hulking behemoth of a man who is as scary as he is dangerous. Darryl Baldwin plays both sides of Jerry very well and we are in his shoes when the film wants us to be. The constant shifting of genres is also a novel idea that if handled better would give this film the edge it needs to stand out.
The dilemma that plagues Creeper is the same one that hobbled Quentin Tarantinoís Deathproof. There are a lot of good ideas, but it takes far too long for them to materialize.