I don’t think Londoners realise just how good they’ve got it with their tube system. They're brightly lit, nearly spotless, and ultra-modern underground transit system looks like the Pope’s bathroom compared to the fetid subterranean hovels we contend with here in America. I had the pleasure of riding the tube while in London and, despite the fact that nearly no one made eye contact with one another, the ride was as pleasurable and incident-free as could be. Hell, the floors were so clean that, when I dropped half of a fried Snickers on the platform, I didn’t even think twice about picking it up and popping it right back into my mouth. No five second rule, here!
Still, it’s a shame about that cannibal living below its tracks, though.
What, you’ve not heard of the “Creep”? Oh, dear, well then you may want to re-think your next trip to England, or, at the very least, stick to the surface. Those London cabs are ever so roomy! Kate (Potente) would have been wise to wait for one instead of rushing off into the tube to catch the last train downtown; then she wouldn’t have nodded off only to awaken locked in an abandoned station.
Well, not completely abandoned.
You see, Guy (Jeremy Sheffield) followed her down there, and, seeing as how she gave him the “signs” at the party they’d attended earlier that night, he was under the impression that Kate had set up this whole “trapped in a tube” scenario for some sort of illicit sexual rendezvous. Apparently absent on the day when they were teaching the whole “No Means No” lesson, Guy forces himself on Kate, only to find himself pulled off of her by unseen hands that drag him off into the depths of the tunnels. Kate flees and finds herself a homeless couple whom she bribes (she does a lot of this as, to Kate, everyone has their price) to take her to the nearest security station. However it’s too late as, when Kate finally does find the security supervisor, he’s already been on the receiving end of a facial makeover courtesy of a deformed, cannibalistic, underground dweller named…err…Craig. Now Kate must fight to survive until the morning against a creature who knows these tracks like the back of his pale, gnarled hand!
Like Clive Barker’s “Midnight Meat Train” and the 70’s cult-classic “Raw Meat”, Creep exploits the fact that a huge underground labyrinth like a subway system is bound to house more than the odd rat or homeless fellow. Here we are introduced to a character that has been abandoned in the tube system for more than thirty years, and has survived on the flesh of those who would not be missed; drifters, vagrants, lawyers, Cliff Richard. When he finally crosses paths with a full-on megalomaniacal fashion designer, though, look out! Kate has connections, a wallet full of notes, and a lethal set of high heels, all of which she uses to…well…not do much of anything.
Didn’t the helpless heroin go out of vogue at the tail end of the seventies, back when John Carpenter introduced the resourceful Laurie Strode? It seems as though writer/director Christopher Smith may have missed that one as his Kate is not only helpless, but actually quite instrumental in adding to the Creep’s body count. There are at least three occasions in this film where any sort of action by Kate could have saved a life (never mind the amount of times she fails to hit the killer “when he’s down”), but, instead of offering a helping hand, she either turns tail and runs, or simply stands there and screams. The one time she shows any semblance of resourcefulness, it’s already far too late for anyone who could have accompanied her on her triumphant return to the surface. Maybe she just didn’t like them. Who knows?
Despite this one major flaw, I still enjoyed Creep. Smith’s script is a bit bumpy at times, but it never veers off into cutesy or cliché territory, and the characters are far less wooden than most genre offerings. Potente plays against type as her Kate is a self-absorbed star fucker whose selfish nature (she was determined to get to a party where George Clooney was supposedly in attendance) is what got her into this mess in the first place. There’s a depth to this character that heightens our emotional investment in her plight, despite the fact that she’s not all that likeable. Sean Harris’s performance as Craig is quite good, especially seeing as he has next to no lines, and, instead, emotes with subtle gestures and movements as well as eyes that speak volumes about his character’s tragic circumstances. It’s all still just one big cat and mouse game, but this particular cat and mouse team are quite skilled at it.
Visually, Creep is a treat, with nicely detailed and color saturated sets that degrade into a murky and miserable looking mess of subterranean decay as we descend into Craig’s world. First time director Smith also throws in a lot of neat camera tricks and editing to heighten tension along the way.
Lion’s Gate pulls out all of the stops for this excellent DVD release which features several long and in-depth featurettes, deleted and alternate scenes (including an alternate beginning and ending), commentary track, and more.