Deep in the dark recesses of the London Underground their lies a terrifying secret trapped and waiting to be unleashed. On her way out for the night of her life, Kate (Franka Potente) is inadvertently trapped in the bowels of the cities subway system. There inside the deserted tunnels she will come face-to-face with a horrifying secret that has been buried for decades.
I have to admit that the initial draw to this film was the casting of Franka Potente (Run Lola Run, Anatomy) as the lead actress. I was categorically stunned when she arrived on screen sporting a shocking yellow dress and matching locks. Surely this was not the same tough German beauty whose performance actually elevated the Bourne Identity from Hollywood Blow ‘em up to European spy thriller. After her entrance, I was absolutely prepared to despise this film on principal alone. To my great delight writer/director Christopher Smith has fashioned a solid horror debut and a wonderful vehicle for Potente.
This film is not going to break any new ground in the genre, but, that is not always a bad thing, especially when the outcome is this satisfying. Creep is a simple chase film, which is what one should expect from a movie shot entirely in the London Underground. What makes the film work is that you have empathy for not only Potente but also for those other peripheral characters she encounters in her effort to escape. What elevates the film far beyond your standard horror fare is that Smith also demands and receives sympathy for the killer.
Over the course of the film, Smith specifically weights the audience’s minds with circumstances that have brought the killer to this place. In the end, the audience not only understands the killer’s motivations but so does Potente. This type of realization in the horror genre is almost unheard of. Tobe Hooper does not ask you to sympathize with Leatherface for his violent upbringing; Sean Cunningman does not need you to feel pity or remorse for the short and pained existence of young Jason Vorhees. Yet Smith, asks not only that the audience comprehend the tragedy that befell Creep, he asks the same of his lead actress. Such empathy forces the viewer to reexamine our inherent desire to see the film through to its inevitable climax. That is a hell of a lot to assume with your major directorial debut and although Creep is far from the perfect horror film, it is an impressive effort at revisionist terror.