It seems unlikely right now but after watching Creep, when you hear the name Peachfuzz again your heart will stop in terror.
Creep is a super low-budget, independent horror film made by first-time director Patrick Brice, and it stars Brice himself along with co-writer Mark Duplass, who you might know from a succession of lo-fi indie comedies and sitcom The League. By the end of your experience you’ll learn what a deeply unsettling, black-hearted, mean-spirited little film this is, but you’ll be surprised at how genuinely hilarious it is too. But then you may also have to be an unbalanced creepo yourself to realise that.
It begins simply enough with Aaron (Patrick Brice) pulling up to a house and encountering the warm-spirited if overly personal space invading Josef (Duplass). Aaron is a freelance filmmaker who has answered Josef’s Craigslist ad. Josef is terminally ill and wants to film a series of videos for the unborn son he will never see get to see. It’s a bit like the Michael Keaton movie My Life, only way more fucked up.
There are many signs that all might not be what it seems from very early on, but the major clue occurs when Josef insists on Aaron filming him taking a bath. This is a tortuously uncomfortable scene where Josef pretends to bathe his imaginary child. It seems to take forever and you know you should be feeling nothing but sympathy and sadness for the man, but instead you’re constantly fighting the urge to scream “get away from this creepy weirdo now!”
And this is long before Peachfuzz comes out. Oh Peachfuzz…
The bath-tub scene is indicative of how the rest of the film plays out. It’s a twisty-turning, blackly-comic two-hander that illicits as much pathos as it does squirm inducing agony and ultimately terror. Creep doesn’t bring in any other characters, it just relies on the performances of these two considerably brave actors to ratchet up the tension to tortuous heights. Duplass in particular is a triumph, managing to remain bizarrely sympathetic despite every sign-post telling you differently.
It’s thanks to Duplass that Creep more than any other film before it, truly manages to be the perfect comedy-horror. It works both as a nauseatingly terrifying experience, and a wonderfully comic character study. It’s like an episode of I’m Alan Partridge. It plays within the same cringe-inducing space, where you fear to watch what’s going to happen next but the character is so fully-rounded and the comedy so perfectly timed that you can’t look away. It just so happens that Creep takes one extra unpleasant turn than the other.
For more spine-chilling thrills to watch over Halloween, check out our complete 31 days of horror movies list.