The Movie Waffler First Look Review - CREEPY | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - CREEPY

A young couple begins to suspect their socially awkward neighbour may be responsible for a series of disappearances.

Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Starring: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Yûko Takeuchi, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ryoko Fujino, Masahiro Higashide

Remember that scene near the end of David Fincher's Zodiac where Jake Gyllenhaal finds himself in what may be the basement of the killer he's been hunting? Creepy is like that scene extended for 90 minutes. Unfortunately the movie's running time is 130 minutes.

After surprising audiences with a gentle romantic drama in his previous 2016 offering, Journey to the Shore, Japanese terror-meister Kiyoshi Kurosawa returns to more familiar genre territory with a psychological thriller that draws heavily on Hitchcock, in particular Rear Window and Psycho. Its English language title, Creepy, may be reductive, but for the most part Kurosawa's film earns such an on-the-nose moniker.

A prologue details the incident that led to Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) quitting his job as a police detective - a dangerous killer breaks free while in his custody, leading to the deaths of three people. We then jump forward to the present, where Takakura and his wife, Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi), are moving into a new home. They attempt to introduce themselves to their new neighbours, but are treated in a cold fashion by the residents of their quiet street. However, the following day, one of the neighbours, Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa), apologises to Yasuko for his prior rude behaviour.

There's something not quite right about Nishino - he's socially awkward to a disturbing degree; he speaks of a wife who, like Mrs Columbo, is never seen; and his teenage daughter, Mio (Ryoko Fujino), seems perpetually uncomfortable around her father.

Initially, Creepy treads a similar path as last year's American thriller The Gift. As with Rebecca Hall's character in that movie, Yasuko begins to feel sorry for Nishino, befriending him during the day while her husband is away at work.

While lecturing on criminal psychology at his college, Takakura is approached by a former police colleague, Nogami (Masahiro Higashide), who asks for his assistance in solving the disappearance of three members of a family. As Takakura investigates, he begins to suspect Nishino may be linked to the case.

For most of its duration, Creepy is a top notch thriller. Kurosawa is a master of creating an unsettling atmosphere through subtle use of his camera, and there's nary a jump scare or cheap sound effect to be found here. As the would be antagonist, Kagawa is terrifyingly terrific.

Remember that scene near the end of David Fincher's Zodiac where Jake Gyllenhaal finds himself in what may be the basement of the killer he's been hunting? Creepy is like that scene extended for 90 minutes. Unfortunately the movie's running time is 130 minutes.

In the final act, all Kurosawa's good work is largely dismantled as the truth about the situation is revealed in thoroughly unsatisfying fashion. The various questions we've been asking ourselves throughout are either answered in dubious fashion or simply aren't addressed whatsoever, resulting in the entire movie's plot collapsing into a giant narrative crater. It's a damn shame, as those opening 90 minutes really do contain some of the year's best genre filmmaking.

Creepy is in cinemas November 25th.