For those familiar with what I look for in the dark cinematic excursion, appraising Creep should come as no surprise. Independent and off the cuff, with a soupcon of sophistication; the kind of film dalliance where passion and ingenuity often takes over from budget constraints or any noticeable studio interference. Released a decade ago and with little fanfare, Creep showcases the talent of then-burgeoning UK director Christopher Smith: the man behind such accomplished efforts as Triangle (2009) and Black Death (2010).
Through a small epilogue involving sewer-workers, Smith kindly introduces the territory: the London underground ... a dank tunnel-world of labyrinthine train tubes, the human homeless, and sewer cesspools. In short, the perfect stage for calamity. Soon after, we attend a party with young German Kate (Franka Potente – Run Lola Run), who has it on good authority that George Clooney is at a popular club nearby. Though planning to attend with a friend, Kate abandons the party solo ... and subsequently falls asleep en route on a London train platform. Waking up alone – and now imprisoned – Kate is slowly initiated to the denizens of the tube-world and must stay alive until morning.
From first impressions of the poster, one might get the notion this is similar in vein to The Midnight Meat Train ... but this is a different, somewhat domestic animal compared to that romp. The antagonist, when it presents itself, is not quite the monster you expect – and for key moments during the build-up you’ll be trying to decide whether this is slasher territory or if Kate is running the gauntlet of the fantastique. After the human threats are dispatched, a killer finally steps into the limelight, a species of human troglophile cannibalistic in nature. Temporarily captured, Kate is put ‘on ice’ until her deformed attacker decides to return ... and it’s here she teams up with another victim to be granted small insights into a genuinely creepy hermit who has a history all of his own.
Though this review more or less falls under the auspices of ‘Retrospective’ Creep still stands up today as an effective gore-fest with some original content for its time. While it lacks a cohesive plot (and features a heroine that will jangle your nerves with unrealistic dialogue), the director has made the main focus here claustrophobic tension with an aside of unforgettable splatter. Most of all, you are witnessing the early stages of a gifted filmmaker honing his skills in a distinctive setting that’s ideal for the genre.