Creepy – Film Review
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring: Yuko Takeuchi, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Teruyuki Kagawa
by Matt Callard
Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation the the revered Akira) made a cult name for himself in the west with a trio of intense, original and memorable scare-a-thons (Cure, 1998; Seance, 2000; Pulse, 2005). More recent departures in to new genres have had mixed results. But Creepy marks his return to the J-horror genre after a decade away.
That deliberately prosaic (Psycho-inspired?) title is apt, with the film focusing on the nightmare neighbour next door whose oddness, elusiveness and downright unpredictability means you can never really put a finger on what it is about him. There’s just something, well, creepy.
Ex-cop Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) quits the force after a botched job involving a serial killer and dinner fork (the film’s bravura opening scene). He ends up as a lecturer in crime, but can’t stop his detective mind from ticking. When he unearths a cold case at the local library paths intertwine (quite neatly, as it happens). Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa), the recluse living next door to him, inevitably emerges as a suspect.
“A new level of paranoia”
Creepy is a very precise film. Open ends are snipped off decisively, the camera work is purposeful, the characters are built convincingly and without needless flourish. This structure and familiarity combines to make the ocean of weirdness that eventually, inevitably, floods out of Nishino’s dark doors ever more chilling. Further, when the director cuts loose with some impressionistic framing and projection (coupled with bizarre lighting) in an extraordinary final act, the effect is startling and unforgettable.
Enough has been written about the Japanese mastery of claustrophobic horror. How it stems from the country’s combination of cultural politeness and intensely tight and dense urban and suburban living conditions. Creepy slots nicely into this thesis. But here Kurosawa takes it to a new level of paranoia, introducing doubt, deceit, obsession and mind games in to the turbulent mix.
Fans of the genre will lap it up. But casual horror fans too will find something eerily familiar in this sharp study of the banality of evil.
‘Creepy’ is available in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition on 23rd January, 2017.