Every wonder if that ad you just posted for a new roommate will attract a total weirdo? Or what if that person you just bought a couch from is going to attack you the moment you step inside to cart it off? Craigslist can be a very useful tool, but no matter how the job or transaction turns out, it’s always an awkward process. But, as long as you never run into someone like Mark Duplass’ character in Creep, you should be fine.
Josef (Duplass) seems to be an average guy who posted an ad for “filming services” at a rate of $1,000 for the day online. In need of some work, Aaron (Patrick Brice) answers the call and heads out into the woods to meet Josef at his cozy and very isolated cabin where Aaron will film a personal documentary of sorts. Even though Josef does seem to have honorable intentions, as the day progresses, Aaron gets an increasingly sinking feeling that something isn’t right.
With Creep celebrating its world premiere at SXSW 2014, Duplass, who also co-wrote and produced the film, and Brice, who also co-wrote and directed the film, sat down to run through the rather lengthy process of bringing this 80-minute feature to life and how they discovered its unique ability to bear both a comedic and terrifying appeal. Duplass explained:
“There was a core creative team, which was me and Patrick and our co-producer and editor, Chris Donlon, and the three of us are friends and we kind of worked through this and then we had a support group behind us kind of making sure everything went well. But it was nice to be able to be relatively light on our feet and it allowed us to come back and reshoot. And that’s what we did a lot through the movie, which was we’d shoot some, edit it together, show people, everybody was like, ‘Oh, this is interesting. This is weird,’ and that’s when we started to discover what you talked about a little bit earlier, which is that some people find it very, very funny, some people find it very, very scary and while I think there are some moments in the film that are empirically funny or empirically scary, more than half of the film is arbitrary as to how someone takes it.”
Consider what might happen if you had a bizarre Craigslist encounter; are you shrugging it off and having a laugh at the other person’s expense or are you busy plotting your escape in fear he or she could hit you with a sneak attack? Duplass once found himself weighing those options in a real life scenario:
“I had an experience one time, I bought a loft bed in New York when I moved there, and it was supposed to be disassembled and ready to put in my van. When I got there, it was still up, so we had to disassemble it together and it took like three hours, and the guy had a lot of that, in particular, hard eye contact and close personal space stuff and over sharing. And he didn’t say anything dangerous. He didn’t say anything inappropriate, but there were a couple of moments where I was like, I could see a scenario here where I don’t leave this place alive.”
Fortunately Duplass did make it out alive and now he’s emulating that experience in Creep, ensuring we never look at any Craigslist user without at least the slightest bit of apprehension. Josef is hilarious, horrifying and downright fascinating all in one. He’s got a charm and warmth to him yet he’s so clearly unhinged that there’s always a fear he could snap at any moment. Creep isn’t just a highly successful standalone experience; it’s also an exceptionally well-layered character piece and considering there is such an engaging and even mesmerizing quality to this curious main player, it’s easy to walk out wanting more, and Duplass admitted they are thinking about it:
“We’ve talked about it. There’s been a lot of, you know – we can’t say too much about it. We’re in the process of selling the movie right now and there will definitely be more Creep."
But before we talk sequel, Creep needs distribution. It sounds like there is something brewing and hopefully whatever that is comes through because the fact that the film is able to evoke such a wide array of reactions and sentiments yet still come across as a cohesive, entertaining narrative, makes it quite the achievement.
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.