Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Creep (England, 2004)

Franka Potente must have been having a bad-script day when she decided to take the lead in this flick. Which is not to say Creep is the worst horror film to hit the screen lately — it is just that the film comes across more like the type of film someone makes at the beginning of their career and not after already establishing a successful one. In this sense, Creep fits perfectly in the career of the Christopher Smith: being his first feature film, he handles his derivative and predictable script with enough verve and professionalism that even if the flick leaves the viewer dissatisfied, it also leaves the viewer thinking that the director might have a bigger and better load to shoot some day in the future. (Indeed, going by the buzz that his last and second horror film Severance (2006) has gotten, it seems Smith might have been popping large amounts of L-Argininel HCL and zinc.)
The basic plot device of Creep is cribbed directly from another film: Raw Meat (aka Death Line), Gary Sherman's misclassified "classic" English horror film from 1972. In their most fundamental forms, both films are about a bloodthirsty killer haunting the London Underground. The background and actual narrative of the films, however, vary greatly. In Raw Meat, the drooling leprous-looking killer is in search of both a new mate as well as fresh meat; in Creep, the malformed albino apparently kills just for the fun of it. (And, in doing so, he sometimes goes to violently gruesome extremes that have seldom been seen since Lucio Fulci lost his touch.) And, whereas the events in Raw Meat span an extended period of time, Creep narrates the nightmarish experiences of the flick's sole survivor over a single night. Furthermore, whereas the origin of Raw Meat's hunter has a plausible ring to it (he is the last in lineage of a mixed-sex group of lowly and disenfranchised workers trapped underground when the entrances of the subways tunnels they were digging caved in and no one thought them worth digging out), the implied origin of Creep's stalker carries more shock effect than plausibility (the function of the improbable underground clinic discovered midway through the film (a gynecologist clinic in the subway — a place that seldom even has a public toilet) implies his origin could be similar to that of the killer kid in Milo (1998)... and, in truth, observant viewers will likewise discover an opening for a possible but hopefully never-to-be-made sequel in that discovery scene).
Creep opens with two sewage workers splashing through the underground sewers of London clearing clogged drainages when low and behold they stumble upon a passage the senior of the two never saw before during his twenty years on the job. Needless to say, they don't make it to the pub that evening. Once the credits role, the film moves on to an after-work party and introduces Kate (Franka Potente), a less-than-likeable wannabe star-fucker who plans to go to some hot party where she hopes to meet and screw George Clooney. (One wonders why the script called for Kate to be such a dislikable bimbo.) But her gal-pal with the invite splits without her, so she heads off to catch up with her via the underground but nods off after one-too-many nips of a bottle. When she awakens, not only is she alone on the platform, but the station is locked up for the night as well. Suddenly a subway car pulls up and she jumps on, followed by someone unknown... further down the line, the car comes to a stop (the driver still in his locked compartment sporting a toothless smile under his chin that spans ear-to-ear), and her unknown stalker turns out to be — George Clooney!
Naw, just kidding, there. Actually, it's Guy (Jeremy Sheffield), a coke-snorting asshole co-worker of hers who promptly tries to do what every male always tries to do when they snort too much coke: rape the bitch. He hardly gets his pecker out of his trousers when he gets pulled out of the subway car and is sliced and diced. The race is on, and for the rest of the film Kate runs here and there and everywhere in an attempt to escape the malformed albino slasher (Sean Harris). Somewhere along the way two homeless junkies — oddly enough, also the two most likeable characters in the film — buy the dust, as does a night watchman in a closed monitoring room and, eventually, the last surviving sewage worker (named George, played by Vas Blackwood). Kate teams up with George after the albino catches her and, instead of going for her guts, stores her in a half-submerged sewage cage next to the cage containing the sewage worker. With the help of high-heels they manage to escape and then they run around together for a bit before Kate finally grows some balls and decides it really is better to kill than be killed...
OK, the film does not lack in viscera. And, in fact, the gynecologist-visit-inspired death of the female junkie Mandy (Kelly Scott) at the hands of the "Creep" is pure torture porn — so those who love the blood are definitely not left disappointed. But other than that, all that Creep offers is a dislikeable lead, one or two passable jolts, a lot of screaming, non-stop running and more plot-holes than London has potholes.
But, really: Wouldn't the unexpected disappearance of two sewage workers that have been assigned underground detail (an acknowledgably dangerous job) result in an immediate search? A subway driver parking a train disappears and no one goes to look for him? (And, being parked at the wrong location as it probably is, no bells go off at the central logistics office?) The subway tunnels not only have entrances to some forgotten underground clinic, but also have access both to sewage and water treatment tunnels as well as immense filing storage rooms? A killer grows up down there for twenty-odd years but is never even suspected? And if he has been killing before, even for any time all, no one notices? (OK, to give credit to where credit is due, the script does refer to "disappearing" homeless and how no one cares about them anyway.) And what is a clinic doing connected to the subway, anyways? Are there no fire alarms anywhere that might be pulled? Would morning cleaning crews clean away all the blood splatters — including one very long trail down a Tube walkway — without saying anything to anyone? An animalistic killer so far removed from "humanity" that it prudishly insists on wearing shorts? (Hmm, must be an American.) A night watchman gets killed in his monitoring room and no one thinks it strange at the shift-change when his room is empty but for a lot of blood? And why do rats always follow the killer around to announce his presence? Worst of all: Kate has the chance twice (!) to kill a monster that she has seen kill others and is also obviously out to kill her and SHE DOESN'T DO IT?!?!!! (But then, they do in these kinds of film, do they?)
If that sounds like your type of film, then go for it. Otherwise, save your DVD rental money for something worth watching.

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