Creep (2004)

Starring: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Sean Harris, Jeremy Sheffield, Paul Rattray

Directed by: Christopher Smith

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Franka Potente as Kate in Brit horror flick Creep

It has to be said, low budget Brit horror flick Creep does not get off to a great start. Once we've got the obligatory prologue out of the way (in which we quickly establish, for the sake of anyone who hasn't already seen the trailer, that something is definitely rotten in the underground tunnels of London - and we're not just talking sewage), we're plunged straight into the most ghastly party I've ever witnessed. (Since when did anyone wear a suit to a party? Apart from Edinburgh Rugby Club players that is?). Anyway, courtesy of some truly appalling acting that's straight out of a 1970s porn movie, we meet stuck up party girl Kate (Blow's Franka Potente). In the words of my mother, Kate thinks she'll do. But being a bitch comes before a big fall, and of course she ends up trapped in the underground when she falls asleep before catching the last train (rather mean of the other passengers not to wake her up, wouldn't you say?).

There then follows a particularly crap episode as she leaps onto a passing train, only to discover some sleazy guy (called Guy) from her office there, all coked up and ready to rape her. Yes, it's a nightmare scenario, but logically it makes no sense at all and this early on in the film, that's really annoying. But of course, Guy is simply a patsy, the first victim of the tube's resident Creep. And once he's messily dispatched, the film starts to pick up.

By now scared out of her wits, Kate legs it to the next station (in her four inch stilettos - you go, girl), where she purchases the help of smacked up Weedgie homeless bloke Jimmy (so no stereotypes here then - and why does Kate have over a hundred pounds in cash in her purse?). Needless to say, neither Jimmy nor the station's anal security guard last long (a bit of a wasted comedy opportunity there, actually), leaving Kate alone once more, stumbling through a never ending warren of dark, dank and dismal tunnels as she desperately tries to escape a similar fate.

Behind you! The Creep claims his first victim...

And then we meet the Creep.

Usually in a horror film, the moment we meet the monster is the moment the whole film goes to pot and ceases to be in the slightest bit scary. But, without giving too much away, the Creep (Sean Harris) is really quite nasty, a sadistic mutant troglodyte who preys on society's lost and lonely: homeless people, underground and sewer workers and anyone else unfortunate enough to stray across his rat infested path. Lurching slowly and deliberately through the tunnels that are his home, the almost nonchalant, workmanlike way in which he sets to capturing and mutilating his victims is really quite horrible. Fleeting and nicely un-overexplained glimpses of a sinister back story give us a chilling insight into the tortured childhood that has created this monster and almost imbue his character with a bit of pathos. until we realise quite what he's going to do with that saw. ouch!

Whilst the Creep may be part Michael Myers, part Creeper and part Toombs from out the X-Files (remember him? Now he was scary!), it's the influence of horror cinema guru Tobe Hooper that's most prevalent in this film. The clumsy dialogue, cheap 'n' gory make up effects and bucketloads of blood and guts are all staple features of the 1970s slasher genre Hooper helped define. Like Hooper's recent release, The Toolbox Murders, Creep deliberately plays with our expectations as a horror audience. Yes, we know that the sewage workers are going to find something nasty down the spooky tunnel, that when you stand by an open tube train door you're going to get grabbed and that the Creep is never ever going to be dead. But just because we can see it coming, it doesn't make it any less horrible.

Franka Potente and Vas Blackwood face up to the Creep

Because horrible it is - Creep really is a very cruel and nasty film in places. But, bloody and gross as many scenes may be, the most sick and unwatchable scene of all (and you'll know which one I mean once you've seen the film) barely shows a single drop of blood. As the Creep sets about his sadistic business, the true horror is all in our minds.

Okay, so post Scream it is a bit annoying to be confronted by a set of characters who commit such basic horror movie errors as refusing to stick together, crawling down dark tunnels on their own and not killing the bad guy when they've a perfect opportunity to do so, but all the same, if you're a fan of blood and gore and cruelty, this could be the film for you. And it had a rather nice Rocky Horror Show 'Superheroes' ending which made you think that perhaps mardy Kate had actually learnt something from her nightmare experience. Homeless people one, London party goers zero.

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