Reviewed by Michael Erb
There is so much that’s fundamentally wrong with Creep Van. It could be that the filmmakers never had the budget or had a chokingly tight production schedule. Perhaps those behind it had a little too much confidence in this slapdash script about a killer in a creeper van. In the end it doesn’t really matter because none of those reasons can fully explain just why and how Creep Van is so awful.
The story follows Campbell as he struggles to find work in the Detroit area. Campbell doesn’t have a car and takes the bus everywhere, which takes a toll on his spirit and his work. When he gets a job at a carwash, Campbell starts searching the classified section for a ride. He finds a listing for this clunker of van and calls the owner. The van’s current driver doesn’t immediately return the call because he’s busy killing people. Prospective buyers, strangers at the beach, and even talk hitchhikers all meet their gruesome ends inside this trap laden crap box. While Campbell starts wooing a coworker and adjusting to a car-less life, the killer decides it’s time to show Campbell what this van can do.
The story goes nowhere and is ultimately pointless. Characters have no arc whatsoever and act without any purpose. The killer has no discernible motivation and appears to chase Campbell because he didn’t buy the van. What constitutes the plot bears no semblance of story structure. There’s a beginning and an end, but the stuff that happens in between doesn’t advance the story. The movie seemingly exists for the express purpose of showing naked women and gory kills. There’s nothing wrong with that, but somehow Creep Van turns both of these time honored horror movie traditions into joyless schlock.
The makeup and practical effects come from Almost Human, the same company that did effects for The Crazies remake and a multitude of other films. They really are a great company for makeup and prosthetic effects and in Creep Van, the gore looks pretty good and is the best part of the movie. It’s not the company’s greatest work, but the effects in this movie are the most competent thing about it.
Technically, the production is pretty amateurish. The lighting is atrocious, with night shots having almost no light sources on the actors and the action of the scene. Whatever tension and horror that could have come from the night scenes disappears a slight distance from the area effect of the bulb. You can still keep the dark mystique of the night while suitably lighting a man getting stabbed in the neck with a car antenna, but for some reason the technique eludes these filmmakers. The cinematography is lacking at best and incompetent at worst. Simple things like properly framing a shot seem like untenable goals for the camera team of Creep Van. There are murders that occur onscreen that cannot be seen because of a big shadow or a poorly placed camera.
The cast is composed of some well-meaning but ultimately bad actors. Nobody is really capable of showing any emotion, not even terror. Every attempt at humor falls flat partially because of the casts lifeless delivery. Lead Brian Kolodzie, while handsome and toned, can’t do more than say the lines and shuffle through the scene. There’s a serious problem when Lloyd Kaufman shows more range in his brief cameo than the rest of the cast does for the 85 minute runtime.
Creep Van tries to be a gnarly little slasher but can’t overcome its complete lack of talent. The movie is deeply flawed in nearly every aspect of the production. Like every other rusted out 70’s van still floating around today, this thing’s a lemon.
The visuals are nothing special and the audio is not much better. The disc comes with two sound setup options if you want to optimize the experience.
The DVD comes with an audio commentary track from co-writer/director Scott McKinlay and co-writer/producer Jim Bartoo. There’s a making of video that’s really more of an interview with McKinlay, who appears to be a passionate and driven filmmaker despite his movie. There’s a true making of segment that focuses purely on the scene where the titular van crashes through a home and kills a couple mid coitus. While not the best edited segment, this one actually shares some good insights into how to shoot such a scene. The interviews with the actors are pointless and short. There’s a deleted scene between Campbell and Amy that adds nothing to a movie that had nothing to begin with. The disc also includes the trailer and the investor trailer that was used to net funding.
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