Fantasia Film Festival 2016 Movie Review: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's CREEPY

Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the horror/thriller CREEPY by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa.  To keep some of the mystery of the movie, I will supply my own plot description:

A former police detective moves to a new neighborhood where his next door neighbor seems a bit off.  One day, his neighbor's daughter claims she is no way related to her father.  The former detective begins to look into his neighbor and realizes that something evil may be lurking in his new neighborhood. 

Let me just start from the top, the story here is fantastic.  The opening scene sets the stage perfectly for our lead and things only get better from that point. While some may take issue with the slow burn nature of this film, I appreciated that it did not rush, but instead took the time to flesh out the mystery and characters.  

If I had to log one complaint, it would be that the characters themselves are fairly typical.  From the cop who left the force due to "an incident" to the former victim who is starting to remember the past, we have seen these people before many times over.  The true triumph, from a character standpoint, is our villain who is a charismatic psychopath with an aversion to killing.  What made this role so distinctive was the fact that, much like Charles Manson, our antagonist would rather talk other people into doing his dirty work for him than to get his own hands dirty.

Of course, what makes this character shine is that the actor portraying him does so with confidence.  Walking the line between someone who is trying to appear kind to a ruthless killer making veiled threats can be a tough act (especially when both are occurring in the same scene), but Teruyuki Kagawa brings an authenticity to the role that is mesmerizing.  Little touches, like how he acts with his daughter or the pet dog, add a lot to this character's likeability even when he starts to turn ruthless.

I have to admit to being impressed by the lack of violence shown in this movie.  That is not to say that there is no violence (there most assuredly is), but what violence there is never appears in graphic detail.  Even though a throat may be cut or a person may be shot in the head, the camera is far enough back and it all happens so quickly that we cannot make out the gory details.  I thought this was a fitting way to handle the more intense scenes given the already Hitchcockian feel of the piece. 

Apart from keeping most of the savagery in our heads, there was not much else special about the style.  That is not to say there was anything wrong with the composition of this picture; it just did not have any big visuals or a memorable score to hook in the audience.  If there were some jaw-dropping camera shots, eye popping color schemes, or a soundtrack that stuck with us after we finished watching this film, it would have elevated the production value from good to great. 

All in all, this is a slow burn that will reward the patient viewer with a truly memorable villain. Add to that some great acting from the rest of the cast and this turns out to be a solid entry in the horror/thriller genre.  Those who want to see a different type of killer should definitely give this a watch.

Nighty Nightmares,
The Creeping Craig

CREEPY will have it's Canadian Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 26 at 10:00pm at the SGWU Alumni Auditorium (Hall Theatre)