After the capture and interrogation of a psychopath goes disastrously wrong detective Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) leaves the police force and becomes a lecturer on criminology at a university. Takakura and his wife Yasuko (Yûko Takeuchi) have moved house to a neighbourhood where it turns out their neighbours keep to themselves. One of their neighbours Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa) appears to be the same until he suddenly becomes overly friendly. Meanwhile Takakura is lured back into detecting after his colleague tells him about the unsolved disappearance of a family from six years ago.
Creepy is a statement of intent as well as a comment upon its characters. Kurosawa favours the slow burn and subtle building of tension in Creepy, like with Pulse, rather than the bang and shock of blockbuster horrors which makes it all the more effective. The film builds up a feeling that everything is off and that Takakura and his wife are wandering into something they should avoid. Neighbour Nishino is a slippery and untrustworthy character, played by Teruyuki Kagawa with his wide eyes and frog-like face, who flips from indifferent and rude to overly friendly. Something definitely seems off with him but his sudden willingness to make friends and his normal and bright-eyed daughter makes you feel like maybe he’s just a product of a hostile and alienating street.
The psychopath antagonist in Creepy is a skilled manipulator, getting innocent victims to commit the crimes for him while keeping his hands (relatively) clean. Kurosawa, no relation to the one you’re thinking of, is a skilled manipulator himself, subtly playing with light and depth to create a style that makes Creepy all the more effective. One scene, involving a potential witness being prodded into remembering forgotten details, sucks you in with its clever staging and finely crafted direction and it’s only after the scene ends that you notice what Kurosawa has done and how he has played you.
Unfortunately, the plotting isn’t quite as well handled. Once we head towards the denouement you will question a couple of the choices of the characters and the plot does hinge on a huge coincidence. However, it still builds to a tense and brutal ending.
Creepy earns its title. With an effective and unsettling atmosphere, Creepy is an entertaining and captivating dark thriller with some nice stylistic touches from Kurosawa.
CREEPY / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: KIYOSHI KUROSAWA / SCREENPLAY: CHIHIRO IKEDA, KIYOSHI KUROSAWA / STARRING: HIDETOSHI NISHIJIMA, YÛKO TAKEUCHI, TORU BABA, RYÔKO FUJINO / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 23RD