Starring: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Yûko Takeuchi, Teruyuki Kagawa
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Running Time: 130 mins
Creepy is a Japanese film about a former detective who moves to a new neighbourhood with his wife. While investigating the case of a missing family from six years ago, their new neighbour begins acting suspiciously, until one day when his daughter says that he’s not her real father.
Above all, this film definitely lives up to its name, in the fact that is definitely a creepy, unnerving watch. With dark drama and twisted crimes on display throughout, it’s the sort of film that will easily make you feel a little uncomfortable in your seat from start to finish. However, although it proves an engaging watch from that, its central story is nowhere near as flawless, featuring some messy plot twists and a final act that doesn’t really come together, all making for an unsettling, albeit not endlessly enthralling watch.
Let’s start off on the bright side, with all of the creepiness. The best part of the whole film is the awkward and mysterious relationship between the couple and their strange neighbour. From the first day they arrive in the neighbourhood, it appears something is off, and that sense of unease in the middle of a serene, suburban environment grows considerably as the relationship between the two neighbouring families grows.
It’s not a Rear Window situation, with the characters viewing their neighbours’ strange actions from a distance, but rather a much closer, and as such seemingly much more dangerous situation where they are continuously meeting with him, and being drawn into a web of what seems like deceit and fraud, although it’s never quite clear.
And that’s what works really well about Creepy throughout. Although its overall story isn’t perfect, it really unsettles you throughout, misguiding your attention again and again as it takes you through some entertaining and surprising twists and revelations, and by keeping the identity of the man next door as ambiguous as possible throughout, yet without being blatantly suspicious, I was engrossed by the unpredictability of a relationship that could go south very quickly.
In that, I’ve also got to praise the performances from the lead trio. Teruyuki Kagawa is fantastic as the creepy neighbour, carrying himself in a clearly suspicious yet still convincing and realistic manner, allowing that doubt and dilemma to fester in your mind as you try to figure out who he really is. Meanwhile, Hidetoshi Nishijima and Yûko Takeuchi go further than the normal role of the only presence of sanity in a bizarre situation, bringing great depth and an impressive level of emotional unpredictability to their seemingly normal characters, allowing for even more uncertainty to grow as the balance of suspicion shifts throughout the film.
So, it’s fair to say that Creepy is a film that will unsetlle you throughout, as well as give you some intriguing twists that are hard to see coming at first, furthered by strong suspicion that keeps you guessing throughout. However, that’s not the whole story, and the rest of the film is a little bit of a let-down in comparison.
While I found the film’s more unnerving side particularly engrossing, there’s a whole other story that centres on the detective’s investigation of a crime left unsolved over the last six years. It does have a link to the main plot with the creepy neighbour, and occasionally provides some interesting drama, but its thrills pale in comparison to that main story, and it doesn’t even last the whole duration, ending in a little bit of an abrupt and rather underwhelming manner.
Finally, the film’s last act really doesn’t work out as well as it aims to. There is excitement there, but due to the introduction of one slightly more outlandish plot device, it fails to provide the intense thrills and unsettling drama of the first two acts, ultimately descending into a bit of a silly finale that doesn’t do the film’s earlier intrigue justice, which ended it all on a bit of a disappointing note for me.
Overall, Creepy is a good film with interesting drama and twists, complete with a powerfully unsettling atmosphere throughout, and strong performances to further just that. However, its story really doesn’t match up to its strongest points, and makes for a frustrating and often just silly film that doesn’t provide the thrills and drama that it’s really going for, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1.