CREEP 2: A Comically Engaging Character Study
Creep 2 takes the comedy and emotional performances of its predecessor to create something entirely new and unique.
Patrick Brice’s follow up to his 2014 film Creep twists the found-footage horror away from the scares and toward uneasy laughter. The first film built itself up through tension between Josef (Mark Duplass) and Aaron (Patrick Brice), leading the audience toward discovery along with its filmmaker protagonist.
In Creep 2, we already know Josef (who goes by Aaron throughout this film) is a serial killer. Brice and Duplass’s script focuses more on comedy, creating a character study rather than an exploration of tension in the found-footage genre. Both films work beautifully, with their strengths coming through both visually and tonally, but with just enough differences to feel unique and interesting.
Creep 2 follows Sara (Desiree Akhavan), the creator of a web series who meets and films subjects of online advertisements. Her show, Encounters, is not a success, so she is looking for a new subject for her finale episode when she comes across Aaron’s ad. The mysterious nature of the ad intrigues Sara, resulting in her driving hours to take on the videography job he is offering.
A Change in Tonal Focus
The tone of Creep 2 is more of a comedy than the horror we experienced with the first film. Even jump scare scenes that are visually similar to those in Creep are played more comically in Creep 2, with Sara not reacting to Aaron’s many attempts to scare her – attempts which all worked in the first film.
The comic tone lets the moments of disturbing confrontations feel that much darker. Akhavan’s performance as Sara shines, especially in scenes where her actions feel unexpected. The character of Sara is more developed and interesting than Brice’s role in the first film, since she does not come across completely as someone roped into something they did not expect.
During multiple moments throughout the film, Sara is blatantly told that Aaron is a serial killer, yet she chooses not to believe him, or go along with it even if she does believe him. Both films take an interesting twist to the relationships between victims and their killers, mostly due to how Duplass gives depth and personality to his character.
In each film, he makes his victims feel as if they are good friends, and all his moments of trying to scare them are something friends do for a laugh. This friendly persona Duplass presents in his character adds to the uneasy nature of both Creep films. We might be laughing at the random and ridiculous situations presented on screen, yet we also see the darkness hidden behind it all.
Creep 2 succeeds in its development of Aaron from a killer with a smile on his face to one who feels like he lost his passion. The film opens with Aaron killing Dave (Karan Soni) after having a camera in his house for months. After killing Dave, he is visibly dejected and tells the audience he feels he has lost his passion. Later on in the film, he describes his current state of mind to Sara as a sort of serial killer midlife crisis. In this early scene with Dave, Aaron moves the hidden camera around the room, in order to frame the next scene in his murder. This was a nice way to showcase the found-footage genre. I liked how the camera was stable, yet was still manipulated and moved by characters in the scene, establishing the tone and style of the film from its first scene.
For the most part, the films are visually very similar with their found-footage style, yet Creep 2 has some moments which stick out. One in particular involves Aaron following Sara into the bathroom when she is going to take a shower. The entire scene is bathed in red light, which visually reminded me of some of my favorite moments in the film Suspiria. This scene is also interesting because it shows Sara beginning to try to scare Aaron after his countless failed attempts to scare her.
Making Familiarity Work With the Audience
Creep 2 knows the audience is familiar with Duplass’s character, and uses this familiarity to take the film in new directions. We already know he is a killer, so the script has him easily give this information up to Sara, instead of recreating the tension of the first film.
Taking the film in a new direction worked well at having Creep 2 stand out on its own, instead of feeling like a replica of the previous film. Even in moments very similar to scenes in the first film, Creep 2 manages to make these moments feel completely unique.
One of the major successes of Creep 2 is found in Akhavan’s performance and the way her character is so different from Brice’s in the previous film. Where the tension in Creep came from the audience discovering everything along with the protagonist, the tension in Creep 2 is found between the audience and the protagonist.
We already know of what Aaron is capable when Sara is still piecing everything together, while trying to get to know him on a deeper and more personal level. This is a wonderful instance of audience familiarity working to create new tension instead of revisiting the tension we felt while watching the first film.
Realism and Absurdity
One of my favorite aspects of Creep and Creep 2 is how the actions in the film both feel realistic and absurd. I have heard plenty of people complain about how unrealistic the actions of the first film’s protagonist were, yet I believe the film presented his concerns and struggles in a very realistic light. Patrick Brice portrays the protagonist of that film with both curiosity and unease surrounding his new acquaintance, or possibly even friend.
In both films, the victims are introduced to our main character as he is joking. Sara is introduced to him as he offers her a smoothie and comments that it’s poisoned before laughing and telling her he’s joking. This interaction makes her responses to his confession of being a serial killer more realistic. She assumes he’s another lonely guy who cuts through tension with jokes.
When the original Aaron is introduced to Josef, he is constantly laughing after trying to scare his new friend, which makes Aaron’s reluctance to think something is truly wrong feel realistic, even when Josef’s actions become more and more absurd. This idea of not knowing if something is truly wrong sets up an interesting tension in the first film.
In Creep 2, we see this same level of doubt in Dave, as he receives a DVD and a wolf toy in the mail. He has Aaron come over, because this is someone he considers a friend and trusts. We do not see too much of their relationship, but it is mentioned that these packages and hidden cameras have only started once they became friends.
Aaron tells Dave that he wanted to document their relationship, so they could have something to look back at once it was over. Dave’s reluctance to believe his friend is someone disturbed feels realistic, even knowing everything had only begun happening once they knew each other, since this kind of close relationship is a staple in Aaron’s victims.
Duplass’s performance comes through the most in scenes where Aaron is both oddly menacing and friendly. This combination of violence and desire for friendship and companionship makes his character that much creepier.
Conclusion: Creep 2
Creep 2 takes elements of its predecessor, primarily its comedy and emotional performances, and expands on them, creating something new and unique, instead of a retread of the first film. Mark Duplass and Desiree Akhavan give wonderful performances, highlighting the similarities between their characters.
What did you think of Creep 2? Are you looking forward to the third part of the proposed trilogy?
Creep 2 was released on October 24th through VOD.
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