Anyone who's braved the daily horrors of London's Underground will identify with Creep, a claustrophobic, grubby and decidedly distressing feature debut from Brit helmer Christopher Smith. (No surprise that he came up with the idea while stuck in a Tube tunnel.) Described by the writer/director as a "psychological mindbender and manic monster movie", it sees Franka Potente's chic chick pursued up and down the Bakerloo Line by Sean Harris' shit-caked tormentor.
The first half is the mindbender part, Potente ruining her heels as she stumbles through rusted tunnels and dank sewers. Who or what is stalking her is a mystery; all we know is that the fleet-footed German star of Run Lola Run is now kicking her heels in a so-so subterranean slasher.
Then comes the "manic monster" bit, Harris (Ian Curtis in 24 Hour Party People) shuffling out of the shadows and into the sickly, ochre spotlight. Not that his mewling mutant is worth its close-up, mind: seven hours of make-up conjure a faintly ludicrous exhibit. No, it's the unflinching nastiness of his actions that burrow under our creeping skin. This is old-skool horror, stained by the video nasties: sullen, sordid and relentlessly, gloriously repellent.
Unfortunately, Creep is also disgusting in its shameless pilfering. Underground (ho-ho) classic Death Line supplies the backbone of Smith's misshapen creation, but the fledgling director ransacks every scare flick going in search of suppurating limbs. It's just a shame he didn't think to leave some parts behind, Potente's plucky heroine devolving into that generic staple, the ditsy bint.
As for Creep's other plot holes and voids in logic, it's best not to mind the gaps. After all, you don't watch An American Werewolf In London's famous attack on the Underground and think: "That's bollocks, - Tottenham Court Road Station is never deserted." Not when you're watching a movie about a bloody great werewolf...
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Derivative monster slash that squeezes the sick-trigger but fires blanks. Still, you gotta love Potente's new look. Is poo the new black?