This week, Jamie doesn’t apologize for liking (most of) the Evil Dead remake, and puts on his favorite werewolf mask while discussing Creep and Creep 2.
The Cine-Files is a weekly film journal where I review and rate the movies I’m watching on a color scale, inspired by my love of Sour Patch Kids candy — green for the worst films, orange for average films, red for the great films, and blue for the absolute best of the best.
You know it’s a good week when you watch a remake actually worthy of its source material, plus discover an indie gem impressive enough to receive the highest recommendation.
Evil Dead (2013, directed by Fede Alvarez)
Has it honestly been five years already? I remember going to see it the day it came out, and the big digi-super-mega-HK-HiFi projector broke. Not a good way to begin. But it got better once the projector was fixed and the movie started. I know a lot of you disagree. I get where you’re coming from, but I still love it to pieces.
I’m going to shoot in all directions here, so don’t expect anything structured or coherent. I can’t help but start with that script! THAT DIALOGUE!!! The movie starts so well, oozing with thick forest tar and atmosphere. The blood dripping hand, oh I love it. Then there’s cats. The cats were horrible! Those were the most unconvincing dead cats I have ever seen. Couldn’t they have done any better, especially considering the budget they were working with?
The Necronomicon looked pretty cool, although the sophisticated illustrations and profanity written all over it threw me off. I liked how it started with a possessed girl. Innocence soiled. Neet! The medicine woman screaming for her to be put out of her misery and give her soul peace. And the score was brilliant! Using those deep, slowly wailing sirens (or were they voices?) to amplify the tension was so effective. What a clever way to get the audience wound up and nervous.
But, unfortunately this is when the movie stumbles. Well, ok, it more than stumbles. It comes close to hanging its-fucking-self. The possessed girl is weeping and begging for mercy, there’s silence, then she says in a squeaky little voice, “I will rip your soul out, Daddy!” OH! COME! ON!! That line fucking hurt me. It’s so bad, it actually caused me physical pain. What a stupid thing to say.
So that’s one of the big problems I have with the remake: the Deadites talk, and the things they say are so extreme and exaggerated, it’s almost like pantomime.
In the original, none of the Deadites talked. They laughed, chanted a few phrases, and there were occasional ambient voices, but that’s it. (Sidenote: I’m referring only to the first Evil Dead movie here.) And they were scarier that way, and much more mysterious and intimidating. I guess the makers of the new one thought a good way to update the Deadites would be to make them say stupid aggressive shit. “I can smell your filthy soul!” That’s sooo bad. The humans aren’t exactly the most enjoyable people to be around, either.
Truthfully, those are the only gripes I have. I loved the detailed set design, and the outdoor scenes had an eerie, overcast, greyish glow that gave the picture a haunted vibe. And the violence and gore reach an operatic intensity. I found that really exhilarating. There were the textbook jump scares, but the horror carried on after that. There was a giddy hostility. Like the Deadite with the nail gun. That scene was relentless.
The set pieces had a “turned up to 11” exuberance about them, there was a chaotic celebration of excess. For mallrat horror, that’s for sure.
Old grungy exploitation and horror are my favorite kinds of movies, but I could appreciate something new and polished if it’s done well enough. And I thought the EVIL DEAD remake was that kind of picture. Again, I understand the hate. Most dedicated horror fanatics have remakes that they absolutely despise. The original movies are sacred to us. I just couldn’t help getting a twisted kick out of how brazen, boisterous, and splattery EVIL DEAD was.
Creep (2015, directed by Patrick Brice)
This is the brainchild of Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass. Mark Duplass plays the creep, and it is one of the most fascinating, uncomfortable, and unpredictable performances I’ve seen in a long time. In it, financially-strapped Aaron answers an online ad for a one-day filmmaking project that promises a $1000 paycheck. He meets Josef (Duplass) at a cabin, and Josef tells him that he is dying of cancer and wants a candid videotape of himself for his unborn child.
An odd request, a little morbid, and quite sad, but Aaron agrees to be the cameraman. Now, since this is called Creep, and we can figure out within seconds that Josef is the creep, the movie becomes a nail-biting “what fucked up shit is he going to put this cameraman through” experience unlike anything I have ever seen before.
Josef has a cruel sense of humor, constantly drops ominous hints of bad intentions, and gets caught and tripped up in so many lies that it almost seems like he wants Aaron to be suspicious. Josef’s behavior constantly keeps Aaron expecting the unexpected, and yes, since this is called Creep, Josef becomes creepier and more dangerous as the movie progresses.
This is a very simple setup, and only stars Brice (Aaron), and Duplass (Josef). Duplass owns this movie. This is 77 minutes that indie horror cinema will never forget, and it belongs to Mark Duplass. He is incredibly intimidating and, yeah, creepy, and most of it is due to the fact that he is so friendly, affectionate, and sincere. Yet we aren’t stupid, he ISN’T really friendly. He’s creepy!
To say that this movie goes to some very bizarre places is an understatement.
I insist you see it. Experience the remarkable performance by Duplass. Feel the second-by-second grim anticipation of when and how exactly he is going to snap. You might think I am giving away something by saying Josef is not who he says he is, but that conclusion should have been obvious to you before the movie even begins. See this immediately, or suffer the wrath of Peachfuzz!!
Creep 2 (2017, directed by Patrick Brice)
Creep really didn’t need a sequel. But I’m not going to go back on my mantra of “there is no such thing as useless art”, so onward we will go. I can’t say that Creep 2 doesn’t have a lot of entertaining qualities, because it does. First and foremost, you get 78 more minutes of Mark Duplass as Josef, which is a grand thing to experience.
And a lot of questions Creep left you with will be answered here. But I’m not sure if they needed to be answered. Part of what made Creep so powerful was the enigmatic ending. Wondering what is going to happen next.
Brice and Duplass did, however, find a clever place to take the story of Josef. Or, more precisely, the story of others as they deal with Josef being a part of their lives.
We get a gender flip this time, with an internet filmmaker played by Desiree Akhavan as Josef’s new videographer of choice. There is a lack of sexual tension that allows many other kinds of suspense to become part of the story. I need to be cautious about saying too much this time, though. Too many details will not only give away aspects of the original, but also some of the more curious elements of Creep 2.
I wanted CREEP 2 to blow my mind as much as the first one, but it’s possible I was having unrealistic expectations. Is it fair to expect the sequel to a masterpiece to be just as good, especially considering it comes from the same filmmakers? Maybe not. But CREEP 2 didn’t captivate and rattle me as much as CREEP did. Nevertheless, I do recommend seeing it.