Creepy, the latest thriller from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Cure) might not flaunt the kind of hardcore scare factor of Kurosawa’s well-known works, but it’s a well-crafted tension trip nonetheless.
Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a retired detective who now teaches criminal psychology at university. After he and his wife Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) move to a new neighbourhood he becomes embroiled in a missing persons case from 6 years prior, whilst his wife tries her best to fit in with her new antisocial neighbours, in particular the creepy Mr. Nishimo (Teruyuki Kagawa).
Kurosawa has a lot on his mind, so much so that Creepy seems paranoid to its core - criminal minds, neighbours, suburbs, loved ones, the nuclear family, the home. So many parts of familiar family life are skewed and stretched, their relative familiarity turned into something unsettling. Kurosawa doesn’t quite go down the ultra-nihilistic route of Se7en, but if we keep the Fincher comparison, this is more of a Zodiac type of film. Creepy follows strands of mystery across many years and shows the real-life consequences for those who happen to get too close.
The key strengths of Creepy lie in its superb cast and carefully spaced revelations. Kagawa is incredible, carrying much of the film’s discourse on his shoulders through studied and well-timed ticks and expressions, almost toying with our desire to hate him. Takeuchi is similarly studied, saving all her soul-crushing misery for the final frames of the film which arguably unsettle more than most of the film. The music is pretty great too; one second unsettlingly loud and invasive, the next, oddly melodramatic. It works perfectly when you consider that this is something of a bastardized fusion of Sono’s Cold Fish and TV Soap Neighbours. And though this is indeed a subtle thriller, it has the power to turn void-black at the drop of a vacuum-packed corpse.
For people who take their thrillers on the darker, meaner side, Kurosawa’s Creepy will not be enough to stimulate those nihilistic desires. But that’s not to say that this is an easy-ride, Creepy’s conversational presentation of horrific events actually works uncomfortably well; blending the public and private, the normal and abnormal, until Kurosawa’s anxieties become crystal clear. This is a scathing review of contemporary city-life, a dreadful look at the interchangeability of nuclear families, the damaging effects of the suburban neighbourhoods, and the ultimate dangers of trying to understand the criminal mind.
Creepy is never more unsettling than when Kagawa and Takeuchi share the screen, never eerier than when it reminds us how little we know about our neighbours. The eventual twist is frustratingly easy to spot, but enjoyable to watch unfurl since the film seems more focused on how the engine works as opposed to where it goes. A surprisingly sedate, but haunting film.
CREEPY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KIYOSHI KUROSAWA / SCREENPLAY: CHIHIRO IKEDA, KIYOSHI KUROSAWA / STARRING: HIDETOSHI NISHIJIMA, YUKO TAKEUCHI, TEREYUKI KAGAWA / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 25TH
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10