As a subgenre, found-footage films saturated the market in the early 2000s. Low budget, high profit left audiences a slew of junk to sift through, only to find few hidden gems. One of those gems was 2014's Creep, which breathed new life into the subgenre by being original, claustrophobic, and well, creepy. This year brought the follow-up with Creep 2. Again, this picture stars Mark Duplass as the big bad wolf (this time named Aaron), and is directed by Patrick Brice. Both Brice and Duplass wrote the film, as they did with part 1. Creep 2 succeeds because it is familiar to its predecessor in format, but different enough to keep the viewer interested until the final cut to black.
What is familiar? The basic story is similar to the first. Aaron hires a videographer to come to his home and film him. Aaron is still Aaron. He is a funny, charismatic, eccentric weirdo, but, aside from the creepiness, likable. He draws the viewer in with his quirks.
This time around, however, Aaron is open about what he is. Viewers are not seeing his process at its peak. They are seeing an artist struggle with his craft. If Creep is about friendship and loneliness, Creep 2 is about art and inspiration, which becomes a darkly hilarious juxtaposition when paired through the lense of murder. Because the theme is different the movie feels different, so it never feels like a rehash even though it shares the same premis.
Creep 2 follows the sequel format: everything is amped up—bigger, bolder, bloodier, and more elaborate. This stays true with the performances as well. Duplass is able to be creepier and funnier. Without spoiling anything, there is a scene where Aaron and Sara (Desiree Akhavana) are playing pool, and Aaron says an otherwise terrifying line, but with a huge smile. It encapsulates the character in one shot. Akhavan is stellar, too. When she meets Aaron and he reveals his hobby, it is easy for the viewer to ask, “Why the hell aren’t you leaving!?” Then she explains why and it becomes an intimate character moment and an example of how tight the writing is. Yes, Sara makes questionable choices, but if she leaves she might get murdered. If she stays she might get murdered. If she runs the risk of getting murdered either way she might as well dive in. Sara's confident, fearless attitude pairs well with Aaron's creepy, funny demeanor.
As mentioned, the writing is tight—as is the directing. There are few, if any, scenes that do not hold their weight. Every bit of dialogue and every shot have substance. Part of what makes Creep 2 work is it trades in scares for awkward character development. Brice and Duplass take instances of inaction and shapes them into absurd, uncomfortable character moments, as in the scene when Aaron exposes himself physically to Sara. This scene could have easily been a write off. Instead Brice and Duplass elevate it by having Sara volunteer to do the same. A shot that begins leaning toward shock and smut, becomes a scene demonstrating Sara's drive and Aaron's vulnerability. Even when the jump scares do not work, there is a reason.
Creep 2 is to Creep what Scream 2 is to Scream: a wilder, badder experience, which plays on the audience's expectations of established material. Viewers never know exactly where it is going, but when it ends there is definite anticipation for Creep 3. With lack of scares, Creep 2 it is not a scary movie; it is an unnerving comedic plunge into the mind of a killer. Never stale, and never a dull moment, this film presents something familiar and revamps it through solid acting, precise directing, and bleak humor, only to cap it off with a true moment of panic.