CREEP 2 (2017)
Directed by Patrick Brice
Written by Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Starring Mark Duplass, Desiree Akhavan, Patrick Brice, Karan Soni, Caveh Zahedi, Kyle Field, Jeff Man
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CREEP was a film that entertained, shocked, scared, and truly freaked me out the first time I saw it. It had the same effect upon second and third viewing of the film too. There’s something about star Mark Duplass that pulls you in close enough to burrow under your skin and stay there long past being comfortable. In CREEP, the protagonist Aaron (director Patrick Brice) played a person who was naïve and trusting enough to let Duplass’ Josef in fatally close and paid the ultimate price for it. As CREEP 2 opens, Josef who now refers to himself as Aaron, is up to his old creepy tricks. And while we get a glimpse of the latter portions of a new “friendship” coming to an end before the credits, Aaron quickly moves on to find a new friend. But in this case, a switch in gender and personality of the protagonist makes CREEP 2 a worthy and equally creepy successor and a completely successful film in its own right.
Desiree Akhavan plays Sara, an artist who answers Craig’s List ads of those reaching out for personal interactions. She has met with people who want to be mothered, people who have weird collections, people who just want a talk buddy, but by the amount of viewers she has received on her Youtube channel “Encounters,” she realizes these segments have simply been safe and uninteresting. So Sara decides to accept an ambiguous ad asking for videographer and offering $1,000.00 for the services (must be a fan of INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE). Intrigued, she agrees to meet at a location in the middle of the woods where she finds a luxurious cabin and inside Aaron (Duplass) making a healthy smoothie. In the first five minutes, Aaron divulges that he is a serial killer and promises that Sara is safe for the next 24 hours while she is filming him. Sara can take the money and leave, but Aaron says that if she is the least bit intrigued, she should stay and get the most compelling footage she will ever get. Sara accepts and follows Aaron through his daily routine, trying to discern whether he truly is a serial killer or just a lonely man seeking attention.
Those of us who saw the first film know the answer, but what makes CREEP 2 so much fun is how much this scenario is like the one we saw before and how different it is. While we know that Aaron will eventually turn on Sara, what we don’t know and slowly find out is that Sara is just as fucked up as Aaron is. Desiree Akhavan plays the character not as a naïve woman, but as a resourceful and quick-thinking one desperate to push her art to the limit and take chances, knowing that risk often factors into success. Sure she packs a knife in her boot and thinks she going to be ok, but even though she weighs her options, the pull of being noticed, seen, and viewed on her channel is more important than her safety to her. This recklessness impresses Aaron who ups the ante with some of the antics that he pulled on Old Aaron in the first film, all of which fail to impress, scare, or affect Sara. It’s fun to see Aaron meet his match and possibly fall in love with who he sees as his equal. At times, there are moments of downright sweetness shared between the two as Sara chooses not the run, but sit there with Aaron through his moodiness, his scare tactics, and even his threats. If you didn’t see CREEP 1, one might think this is just a quirky romantic comedy.
As good as Desiree is, it is Duplass who is front and center for most of the film and again offers up CREEP 2’s creepiest of scenes. While I don’t think there is anything as creepy as seeing Duplass wearing the Peachfuzz mask and charging at Brice in the first film, the film does manage to toss in quite a few effective scares as well as an overall sense of skin-crawling ookiness over and over again. Duplass, who usually plays the nice guy, is able to tweak that amplitude of niceness up and to the left a bit to make even the most genuine of offerings seem insidious. His humor is somewhat invasive. He pushes boundaries. One can tell his character is observing every move of Sara in order to find weaknesses so he can exploit them later. As you witness this happening for the second time in this sequel, it is even more satisfying to find Aaron actually growing frustrated and impressed that his usual schtick doesn’t work on this woman and makes the cat and mouse even more entertaining than that of the original.
In many ways, this film is BRIDE OF THE CREEP to the original as Aaron meets his equal in almost every way and their meeting is an incendiary one. I love that we’ve spent two movies with Duplass’ character and still can hardly get a bead on what is going on in his head, though there seem like moments of authenticity in the latter portions of this film in between all of his lies and deceptions. With the exact same writers, directors, and actors present in this film as the last, CREEP 1 and 2 feel like the perfect double feature as it simply continues the story—showing the patterns of a serial killer who has grown tired of using the same motif and finding a new motivation in life after encountering this truly unique individual in Sara. And while this is a love story, it is a sick and demented one, just as the first film, in an odd way, is a twisted little love story. Here’s hoping there is a third film (possibly a SON OF THE CREEP?) coming soon. Duplass has the uncanny character down and proves in this film that this creep is not just a one trick pony. Every bit as unnerving as the original, CREEP 2 is a must see for those looking to shiver and cringe.