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CREEP

A chick-lost-in-subway-tunnels chiller, and a good one.  CREEP (2004) won’t make anyone’s list of the greatest horror movies of all time, but it contains some effective scares, a neat look, and, in German starlet Franka Potente, an attractive leading lady. 

The Package 
     Subway tunnels have been a longtime staple of horror flicks, from classics like RAW MEAT and ALLIGATOR to more recent efforts like MIMIC and the Argentine MOEBIUS.  The early 00’s was a banner time for subway horror, with MOLE, the Hungarian KONTROLL and the English-German co-production CREEP all appearing around the same time. 
     CREEP was shot on location in German subway stations (though set in London), having been written and directed by the debuting Christopher Smith (who’s since hit pay dirt with his even-better-received follow-up SEVERANCE).  It was picked up for American distribution by Lions’ Gate Films, who gave it a straight-to-DVD release despite the fact that it’s better than many of their theatrically released genre features (like HIGH TENSION and SEE NO EVIL).  The reason?  I’m not sure, but will hazard a guess that it may have something to do with the fact that all the characters speak in foreign accents, which, if what I’ve been hearing lately from European filmmakers is true, is a turn-off to Hollywood execs, who believe audiences won’t pay to see an accented film. 

The Story 
     Kate, a German living in London, is a high-powered model-agency booker who leaves a party late one night en route to a trendy nightclub.  She decides to take the subway, but falls asleep on the platform and misses the night’s last train. 
     Awake, Kate tries to venture back up aboveground but finds the station locked up for the night.  She heads back down to the subway platform and manages to catch a train...not realizing that the conductor has just been murdered!  She’s too distracted by the appearance of a smarmy guy from her agency who happens to be the train’s only other passenger; he tries to rape her, but she manages to fight him off...only to see him pulled out of the train by an unseen assailant.
     Kate disembarks onto another subway platform and, after traversing a labyrinthine series of tunnels, stumbles upon a homeless couple.  She unfortunately drags one of the pair off with her to find help--unfortunate because her actions end up costing the poor guy his life at the hands of the still-unseen killer loose in the area.  When Kate alerts a security guard to her predicament he also meets his end.
     It’s not long before the killer nabs Kate, enclosing her in one of several water-filled cages, another of which holds a black guy named George (Kate reflects on the irony of this, as she was apparently on her way to meet a person named George).  She and George succeed in working their way free and briefly felling their assailant, who turns out to be a former surgeon who’s become a psychotic mutant after years of living underground.  This freak wants to make Kate and George part of his demented collection of surgical victims--but not if they have anything to say about it! 

The Direction 
     Obviously the storyline of CREEP is hopelessly ludicrous from start to finish.  But it’s lively enough that one doesn’t have time to think much about how it is that the killer waits until the third act to nab the heroine, thus allowing her plenty of time to make quite a ruckus...or why it only occurs to her to contact a security guard after she’s gotten lost and witnessed several killings...or how the antagonist would be able to run the incredibly elaborate medical laboratory he operates under the streets of London without ever being found out. 
     For all that the film looks amazing, with an agreeably garish color scheme lensed on crisp Kodak stock.  First time director Christopher Smith does a fine job building suspense and keeping us constantly on edge, even if his narrative is scarcely plausible. 
     In the lead role Franka Potente (from ANATOMY, THE BOURNE IDENTITY and RUN LOLA RUN--some wiseasses have jokingly referred to CREEP as RUN KATE RUN) is quite charismatic and not a little eye-catching (particularly since she wears a skimpy mini-dress throughout).  Her character is developed far beyond the perimeters of the doe-eyed innocent we’ve come to expect in this sort of fare--Potente’s Kate, by contrast, is world-weary and temperamental.  Helpful and resourceful though she is to the other characters trapped belowground, she’s also downright bitchy on occasion.  Indeed, the deaths of many a supporting character are often direct results of Kate’s none-too-thoughtful actions. 


Vital Statistics 

CREEP
UK Film Council/Zero West 

Director: Christopher Smith
Producers: Julie Barnes, Jason Newmark, Martin Hagemann, Kai Kunnemann
Screenplay: Christopher Smith
Cinematography: Danny Cohen
Editing: Kate Evans
Cast: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Jeremy Sheffield, Sean Harris, Kelly Scott, Ken Campbell, Paul Rattray, Kathryn Gilfeather, Grant Ibbs, Joe Anderson, Sean De Vrind, Ian Duncan, Debora Weston, Emily Gilchrist, Craig Fackrell

     

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