Movie Review | Creepy (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 10.11.2016

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Creepy (UK Rating: 15)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a name familiar to any fan of Japanese horror, with his previous films like Pulse and Loft achieving cult fame. He has shown he's more than a one trick pony, though, delivering award winning films in numerous genres. Arguably his best works have been his psychological thrillers, and now he's bringing to life an award winning mystery novel from Yutaka Maekawa. Creepy will be out in selected theatres nationwide and in Digital HD format from 25th November, released as part of the 'Masters of Cinema' series, with a DVD/Blu-ray version following on 27th January, 2017.

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Detective Yoichi Takakura's life as a police detective and criminal psychologist comes to a sudden end at the opening of Creepy. When an interrogation of a recently captured psychopathic serial killer takes a turn for the worst, Yoichi finds himself in a hostage negotiator situation; a situation that doesn't go well, resulting in Yoichi and the hostage being stabbed. This is apparently the last straw for Yoichi, who decides to find a quieter life. He takes his expertise with serial killers to a safer location, moving to a quiet town with his wife, Yasuko, and his dog, Max, to become a professor at the university there. His new home, though, may be no safer than his last.

It's an old tradition in Japan to deliver a small gift to the new neighbours upon moving in, but when the Takakuras arrive with bags of chocolates, they find their new neighbours all seem a little… off. The first is an elderly woman who immediately informs them she does not socialise with the neighbours, ignores their gift, and promptly closes the door in their face. Yasuko meets the second neighbour alone and he epitomises the title of the film, exuding an overwhelming creepy aura. During the first meeting he seems somewhat autistic, acting with strange mannerisms and completely lacking any sort of social skills. His odd nature would scare most people away, yet Yasuko is insistent on befriending her new neighbour.


 
Yoichi, meanwhile, is not entirely content in his new job. While he enjoys teaching classes on the serial killers of the world and speaking on his experience, there's something missing. Between classes he finds his colleague researching crime statistics and spots a familiar case, one never solved that he was indirectly linked with. Yoichi's curiosity gets the better of him and he ends up investigating the case with a junior office in the local precinct.

The story follows these two threads - Yoichi surreptitiously investigating the cold case and slipping back into old habits, while the neighbour Mr. Nishino's strange behaviours escalate and he begins to grow closer to Yasuko. Nishino lives with his wife and his daughter, but is very particular about keeping his family from the Takakuras, ensuring his daughter Mio is never alone with them and that his wife never meets them. Mio is often erratic, she seems constantly nervous around her father and, finally, when Mio gets a moment with Yoichi out of her father's earshot, she discovers that Nishino is not her father; she doesn't know who he is...

Image for Movie Review | Creepy (Lights, Camera, Action!)

There's a reason Kurosawa won the Best Director prize at Cannes, amongst numerous other awards. Kurosawa has long since mastered the art of building tension and atmosphere in his audience, a talent he once again displays in Creepy. The scenes around the character of Nishino make fantastic use of sound and the camera work to develop subtly off-putting scenes, generating a sense of wrongness around him as he continues to exhibit his strange behaviours. Of course, much of this can also be attributed to the skill of the actor playing Nishino, Teruyuki Kagawa. Kagawa is a two-time Japanese Academy Award winner and it's obvious why as his performance is enthralling, delivering an enigmatic yet disturbing character with aplomb.

Creepy has plenty of strong aspects, but, that being said, the finale of the film leaves a lot to be desired, with some infuriatingly stupid police officers, some deus ex machina drugs, and a baffling twist between the Takakuras that just feels out of place.

Image for Movie Review | Creepy (Lights, Camera, Action!)

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
There have already been some superb thrillers covering sinister neighbours, from Hitchcock's masterpiece Rear Window to the superb The Burbs and even, more recently, Disturbia. Even with the flawed ending, Kurosawa has delivered a fantastic addition to this genre and indeed his body of work here is filled with some genuinely chilling moments and great breakout performances.

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