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Creep
cast: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Ken Campbell, Jeremy Sheffield, and Paul Rattray

writer and director: Christopher Smith

81 minutes (18) 2005 widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Pathé DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
Probably one of the most gifted European starlets, Franka Potente scored a hit in Run Lola Run, enlivened lacklustre medical horror Anatomy, and bought much-needed warmth to The Bourne Identity playing the hero's sidekick. For this British shocker, she's back in harassed, feisty heroine mode. Kate falls asleep in a station on the London Underground and wakes up to a nightmare. Trapped in the maze of disused tunnels and vents, Kate is stalked by a terrifyingly bloodthirsty killer of seemingly monstrous origin. The villain of the piece turns out to be suitably demented yet, as a tortured and tormented soul, he still manages to win a little of our sympathy before the end...

What makes Creep such an effective chase thriller and tense horror scenario is the plain fact of its keenly evoked sense of place, its believable supporting cast of homeless junkies hiding in the crawlspaces, and the studied development of this picture's obvious homage to Gary Sherman's genre classic Death Line (aka: Raw Meat, 1973). The likeable or loathsome friends or foes encountered by lovely Kate on her journey into a hellish underworld are frequently revealed in satisfying jolts - of light bursts in the dark or sudden emergence from haunted shadows - despite the wholly predictable nature of some otherwise well timed moments of terror (a key cinematic reference is that unforgettable down-the-escalator POV shot from John Landis' An American Werewolf In London, 1981). Thankfully, perhaps, the film's unsettling scenes of violence (including an attempted rape) and splashy gore effects are rarely gratuitous, and this level of restraint on the part of novice, but clearly genre-literate, writer-director Christopher Smith adds great impact to the unfolding drama.

So, a thoroughly disposable frightener plot, revisited without any of the original's campy undertones, is elevated to quite enjoyably dumb status, depending upon your tolerance for illogical weirdness and easily foreseeable twists. OK, folks, here comes the inevitably cheesy, tabloid style, pun that you've been dreading... If you want a fast track ride to hell and back, Creep is just the ticket.

DVD extras: director's commentary, a making-of documentary, featurettes on the production design and special makeup effects work, footage of a Q&A session with director Smith and actress Potente at 2004's Fright Fest event, plus a bunch of storyboards for alternative, un-filmed opening and ending scenes introduced and explained by Smith. There's also a trailer, TV spots and English subtitles.
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