Creep

Franka Potente, Creep

 

A movie for every day of the year – a good one

 

 

10 January

 

 

London Underground opens, 1863

On this day in 1863, the world’s first underground railway opened in London, UK. It was called the Metropolitan Railway and it ran between several significant mainline railway stations – Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross – before terminating at Farringdon in the City of London. It was built to deliver workers to the booming financial and commercial heart of the country and empire, and was necessary because London’s too-numerous railway termini were removed from its centre. When railways had first arrived in the capital, none of the mostly aristocratic owners of central London real estate would countenance a railway station on their land – hence London’s major railway stations’ siting in less salubrious parts of town, on the periphery of the action. The Metropolitan Railway, driven by steam, lit by gas and wooden of carriage, was an instant success and carried 38,000 passengers on its first day. Plans were immediately fast-tracked to connect up other railway stations in London with a grand circular line (of which the Metropolitan Railway would become part). Because of the extreme difficulty of getting anything built in London without approval of influential landowners, much of this original line was built under main roads, using a “cut and cover” technique (dig trench, drop in tunnel using precast sections, cover over). These days London Underground aka the Tube has 270 stations, 55% of which are in fact overground.

 

 

 

Creep (2004, dir: Christopher Smith)

Six years on from Run Lola Run and only two years after The Bourne Identity, Franka Potente is once again being pursued, in this cheap debut feature from writer/director Christopher Smith. Potente plays Kate, though the name isn’t important, since she’s one of very few people actually in this film, which is about a slightly up-herself model booker who, after dropping down into the bowels of London to catch a Tube home after a PR event, starts being pursued by an ungodly creature, something of a cross between Nosferatu, Hellraiser’s Pinhead, and Texas Chainsaw’s Leatherface. What follows is a chase movie set in tunnels, a showcase of techniques by Smith, who demonstrates sound knowledge of J-Horror and early torture porn and shows he’s seen more Hammer horror and giallo than is good for a man. I’m not going to pretend Creep is a great film; it isn’t. In fact some of the acting is way off, and from talent who are usually a lot better. But it is the debut of an extremely interesting horror director – if you’ve seen Smith’s superior “slasher in the woods” follow-up, Severance, or his extremely good multiverse thriller Triangle, then you’ll know this is a writer/director who is worth watching. And though I say this isn’t a great film, it is full of great moments. At the screening where I saw it, a woman next to me periodically started screamed and started jiggling her legs about as if someone had grabbed them. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, was chortling. The attractions of horror explained in a nutshell.

 

 

Why Watch?

 

  • Debut of a great horror writer/director
  • Last “blink and miss him” performance by great British eccentric Ken Campbell
  • Ingeniously cheap
  • Old horror scares presented with a new twist

 

© Steve Morrissey 2014

 

 

Creep – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Creep”

  1. This is good little shocker; not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but tight, competent and disturbing. An excellent example of a simple idea developed into a compelling 90 minute script.

    The set up requires no bells and whistles, no lengthy exposition or wordy back story; Kate (Franka Pontente), a young German business woman living in London, drifts off whilst waiting for the last tube train. She awakens to find the place deserted, but quickly comes to realise that she is far from alone. Someone, or something, is down there with her and it’s intentions are wholly malicious.

    In fact she encounters several other characters in her quest to survive, including a lecherous work colleague, a homeless couple and a caged sewage worker, all of whom add pace and substance to the plot. There is a slightly awkward gear change somewhere in the middle of the film when tension thriller mutates into gore fest, but nothing so clumsy as to slow the hectic pace. For those of you with weak dispositions this is likely to be a harrowing ride; for those of you who relish a bit of well executed carnal mayhem this should press all the right buttons.

    The climax of the film is perhaps less successful than the main body of the film, but it is punctuated with a nice moment of unexpected social commentary which provides a satisfying conclusion.

    Some may find themselves feeling somewhat cheated of a clear explanation as to the exact nature and history of the threat encountered by Kate and her confederates, however, for me this was not the case. A horror film writer should not need feel compelled to dot every i and cross every t, in the same way a writer of political thrillers might be expected to. There are enough clues here to give you a very pretty clear idea of what brought this evil into existence, making a detailed and conclusive solution superfluous. The retention of a certain sense of mystery is to be welcomed and reminds us that in this film the ride was always going to be more important than the exact destination.

    My understanding is that the budget for this film was, to say the least, minimal, in which case our applause for this British horror should be all the louder, for at no point does one have the impression of corners being cut or effects failing to deliver.

    If this sounds like your kind of film then it probably is. Buy a ticket and climb aboard.

  2. Just saw this at a preview at the Prince Charles in London. Luckily I didn’t have to get the tube on the way home afterwards. A great film for everyone who has ever got the tube late at night and thought to themselves that there has GOT to be a great horror film in this experience!

    Creep is exactly what you would expect having seen the poster. It is scary in all the right places, fast paced, well edited and has a great, eerie soundtrack . Those who don’t like horror films needn’t waste their time but afficiondos will appreciate as a fine example of the art. It comes with the expected STUPID moments where you wish the characters would do something sensible but that, in many ways, is part of the fun isn’t it!?

    The lead character is pretty unsympathetic which doesn’t help but the horrible and unflattering yellow dress she is wearing is partly to blame as well.

    The tube stations look fantastic – empty and creepy a la An American Werewolf in London and the whole design is very effective.

    You know exactly what you are getting with this film – an efficient modern horror movie with jumps and suspense in all the right places. As with 28 Days Later it’s setting alone makes it a must see for anyone who lives in London or uses the tube regularly.

    Overall, four stars. It won’t change your life and it probably won’t make you scared to get the tube but it will raise your pulse, keep you entertained and might make you think twice about getting the last train home.

    The director and star gave a q and a session after the screening and they seemed genuinely nice and were clearly pleased with the film, as they should be. Just watch out for the rats which are only pretending to die…..apparently.

  3. I just saw this film last night at Toronto Film Festival where it was playing under the Midnight Madness section. To tell you the truth, the only reason why I went for this movie was because it shared its name with the Radiohead song, and also because my friend had bought the tickets so I really didn’t have a choice 😀 I went in expecting it to be something like The Silence of the Lambs, but it turned out to be semi-gore flick. Somebody has already mentioned that none of the characters are likable, and that is absolutely correct. I really couldn’t care less if Potente’s character got her entrails ripped out by the Creep. I was rooting for the homeless to make it out alive with Potente’s character getting her just desserts. Christopher Smith has certainly done a great job with the visual aspect of the film. However, the story is rather weak, but then again the whole point of the movie was to scare the crap out of you and it did that quite effectively. The score by a Bristol band called The Insects was top notch. That, more than anything else, really scared the crap out of me.

    The director was a really decent chap and was quite entertaining during the Q&A session. I really do hope he gets to make better films in the future.

    This one is strictly for genre fans, but I’d recommend non-fans to give this a try anyway. It was a fun ride.

  4. Creep is the story of Kate (Potente), an intensely unlikeable bourgeois bitch that finds herself somehow sleeping through the noise of the last underground train, and waking up to find herself locked in the tube station. After somehow meeting workmate and would-be rapist Guy on a mystery train that runs after the lines have closed, things go awry and she finds herself pursued by what lurks beneath the city's streets. Her story is linked to that of George (Blackwood), an ex-con working in the sewer system; they meet in the final third of the film, brought together by their attempts to escape the monster that pursues them.

    The pair proceed through a set of increasingly unlikely locations; from the Tube station, they end up in the sewage works before somehow finding themselves in some sort of abandoned underground surgery. Most Tube stations don't have toilets, so how one has a surgery is beyond me. Naturally, the film cares to explain that the surgery doesn't have running water. Yet it has electricity? Just one of many inconsistencies that work against the atmosphere of everyday believability that the film tries to create.

    The monster itself is a problem. There's a complete lack of reasoning for its actions, it just kills people for no obvious reason. And then of course it keeps some alive for no real reason either, perhaps just so that they can eventually escape and give the film an extra 15 minutes or so running time. I understand that natural evil is supposed to be scary, but then the film attempts to explain itself via a photo of a doctor and his son, and a few shots of some jars containing babies, and yes, it is just as tired and pathetic as it sounds. It also fails to explain how the creature has been underground long enough to lose the ability to speak, communicating only in raptor screams, but not long enough for its pair of shorts to decay. Hmm.

    This doctor business leads to scene that is the film's desperate attempt to implant itself on your memory, and while it is gory and uncomfortable to watch, it just isn't enough. The final third of the film hinges on an emotional relationship that never existed, and the characters break down and recover for little or no obvious reason. George breaks down, unable to cope with something despite stating that he wants to escape so he can see his daughter again, and Kate becomes emotionally tough seconds after going to pieces over someone that ripped her off for a travelcard. Yeah.

    After starting out as a "this could happen to anyone" movie, it quickly falls apart as it introduces ideas that make it more and more unrealistic. A complete lack of emotional interest in the characters and an absence of suspense make this one to avoid.

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