What Makes “Creep” So Unsettling

We often judge horror movies based on how scary they are, which admittedly is extremely subjective. But do we ever rate them based on how “unsettling” they were?   Scary is of course, the kind of fright that we feel in the moment, on the edge of our seats while watching.

And unsettling is the type of dread that we feel long after watching. One such movie (or two if we count its sequel) that falls more into the unsettling category would be 2014’s Creep.

Incredibly simple in its budget, scale, and approach, Creep gives us the very closest portrayal to what a real-life snuff film could be. It’s less over the top and full of itself as something like The Poughkeepsie Tapes, and the result is unlike anything else.

Major Spoilers Ahead…Obviously

We All Know Someone Like Him
Initially, “Josef” (Mark Duplass) comes off as a socially awkward person who just really wants a friend.

At times (before you’ve seen the ending), it’s easy to feel kinda sorry for Josef and how lonely he seems.

His whole story about being a terminal patient making a video for his son seems to fade pretty quickly, and Aaron (along with the audience) is left wondering if this guy just wanted someone to hang out with.

It’s hard to know if Josef was planning on killing him from the very beginning, or if he only decided to do so after Aaron pushed him away so much (however the opening scene of the sequel sort of answers this for us).

The first film plays out like a much bleaker version of The Cable Guy with Jim Carrey. And while that movie was very underappreciated in its time, many have identified with it, because haven’t we all met someone a bit obsessive who made us uncomfortable?

Someone who seems to really want to be our friend, but who really doesn’t understand boundaries.

As demonstrated by Josef going straight to “tubby time” when Aaaron gets there!

A Very Grounded Performance
Some of our favorite homicidal maniacs from horror movies include Annie Wilkes, Hannibal Lector, Patrick Bateman, and many more. However, while all of these characters are definitely beloved, they also tend to be a bit over the top and theatrical in their approach.

On the surface, Josef feels like an ordinary person we might run into out in public. Killing doesn’t even seem to be his main hobby, and he’s charismatic enough at other times that we could see ourselves possibly wanting to hang out with him (until he gets really creepy of course).

It’s reminiscent of footage of Ted Bundy, who seemed like a perfectly normal, charming person, but was in fact a heinous murderer. It’s quite believable that, if he was ever caught, someone would spot Josef on the news and say, “Hey, that’s one of the regulars at Whole Foods, he seemed really normal.”

The final scene is so chilling in just how ordinary and realistic is seems.

Plausible Scenario
Ultimately, what’s creepy about Creep is just how easy it was for Josef to stalk Aaron, as he sent him packages and somehow got into his apartment while he slept. We can assume that he used Aaron’s email or phone number to look him up.

With the right online tools, it really isn’t that difficult to find someone’s address. And if Aaron was the type to frequently post on social media, it was probably even easier. Many of us have our workplace, images of our home, cars, etc. readily available for people to see.

Which is why Creep is the type of movie that definitely makes you run around the house making sure all the doors and windows are locked before going to bed…if you can manage to fall asleep at all.

What do you think of Creep? Let us know in the comments below!

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