2014’s Creep gleefully antagonized audiences and dared them to simultaneously laugh out loud and jump out of their seats, evoking controversial Belgian black comedy Man Bites Dog. A prime example of meta-horror, Creep lovingly parodied tropes while reinvigorating the exhausted found-footage genre. Writer, producer, and star Mark Duplass (FX’s The League and Baghead, a stylistic precursor to Creep that disguised a relationship dramedy as a horror movie) delivered a brilliantly cringe-inducing performance. Director and co-star Patrick Brice offset Duplass by standing in for the audience, asking the logical questions, and ultimately suffering the consequences.
Creep 2 promises to up the ante, throwing star Desiree Akhavan (HBO’s Girls) to the wolves (in this case, Duplass donning a wolf mask named Peachfuzz). Director and co-writer Brice returns to helm the follow-up.
Brice and Duplass recognized the pitfalls of sequels to singular movies. “We were battling sequel clichés,” said Brice, “but we gave ourselves the liberty to lean into some sequel tropes.” In fact, Creep 2 frequently subverts the audience’s expectations. “The narrative tension of the first movie relies on whether [Duplass] is a serial killer. We answered that question in the first movie. With Creep 2, the cat’s out of the bag. That changes the audience’s engagement because it makes them in on it. We’ve given you answers, and hopefully you’re still feeling the tension – or feeling like you’re watching a car accident.”
But this car has two passengers: Duplass’s Aaron and Akhavan’s Sara, a Youtube documentarian struggling to find her audience. In a last-ditch effort, she responds to a Craigslist ad and encounters Aaron, who has the potential to be her greatest subject – or worst nightmare.
“What was important to me was that this woman never felt victimized, and she thought she was being the aggressor,” said Akhavan. “We always thought of her as a Reed Morano [cinematographer and director] type. When you’re a woman in any male-dominated industry, you develop a coat of armor. So, Sara was the amalgamation of all of my favorite female-filmmaker badassery.”
Her words couldn’t be more apt considering recent allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The original Creep uncomfortably showcased the power disparity between a vulnerable person alone with a strange, potentially dangerous man. Given the introduction of Sara, Creep 2 promises to explore the original film’s more disturbing aspects from a female perspective.
“There is gender in the room, there is sex in the room,” Akhavan said. “It is such a weird neutered sexuality. Who is this sociopathic serial killer? What kind of sexuality would he have?” This power struggle charges the film’s most memorable (and unsettling) moments.
“[Creep 2] is really successful in that, when you’re watching it, you’re often worried for her – but sometimes you’re worried for [Aaron]. You don’t know whose side to be on,” Akhavan continued.
Creep 2 strengthens the franchise’s fundamental belief that less is more. “Mark said earlier today that it felt like being eight years old again and having your dad’s camcorder,” said Akhavan. “You could try anything.”
Brice echoed this sentiment: “With these movies, because it’s such a small crew, we have a unique opportunity to watch every take. We could rely on each other’s taste to know when it’s working. Mark and I were very open to the fact that if someone had a better idea for something that it’d be okay to bring it up. We threw together a lot of ideas that made sense to us and made us laugh.”
“This was good for natural performances,” said Akhavan, “because it’s easy to be intimidated by equipment and big crews. We all utilized what we do best.”
As such, the film evolved organically and the script frequently changed – sometimes even the morning of. “We’d go home every day and rewrite scenes we were going to shoot the next day. And we’d be making changes right before shoots. You couldn’t do that with a normal movie.” Creep 2 is not a “normal” movie in the best sense. Both films are practically incomparable, largely in part to the fearlessness of the cast and crew.
“If you’re not doing shit that’s weird, that you haven’t seen before, that could potentially embarrass you, then you’re not doing it right,” said Akhavan.
By that estimation, Creep 2 did everything right.
Creep 2 is available on all digital platforms on October 24.
Watch the trailer below: