Yasuko holds a large heavy bowl of stew, and cautiously enters the home of next-door neighbor Mr. Nishino. The narrow walls and ceiling are off-putting—she hesitates. When Mio, Nishino’s daughter, enters the room and learns that Yasuko is here to meet Nishino’s often- mentioned- but- until- now- unseen wife, she swiftly gives Yasuko a frightened, deterring shake of the head. Yasuko quickly heads home, despite Mr. Nishino’s attempts to urge her inside.
This is not the first unsettling encounter we see in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 2016 film Creepy, and it is not the last.
We are in urban Japan, where the camera frames characters in claustrophobically narrow streets, with harsh vertical lines of buildings and walls and slicing horizontal window shutters and furniture. The deep green foliage of trees and other natural intrusions in the concrete complete the urban landscape. Characters often feel like they’re framed by the camera standing just too closely together when speaking as though to make every conversation feel uncomfortable.
The Takakura’s are Yasuko and her husband Koichi, who’ve just moved into their new home. A workplace injury caused by a tense hostage situation during the opening of the film has left former detective and serial killer psychology expert Koichi feeling no longer up to the task of his former profession. The couple hope to find peace in their new home, as Koichi begins a new job as a professor at the local university. However, Koichi soon becomes interested in a cold case involving a missing family that disappeared without a trace, leaving only a young daughter, Saki, whose faulty recollection of the events proved to be less than useful for investigators. Yasuko’s days in the meantime are characterized by her unsettling encounters with the Nishino family next door.
“Our neighbor, Mr. Nishino, he gives me the creeps”
You too might find that Yasuko’s comment is exactly what we’ve been thinking as well.
Meanwhile, in parallel, Koichi pursues his investigation. He becomes increasingly desperate in pursuit of the truth behind the cold case, willing to intimidate physically and invade personal space. As he interrogates Saki, harsh stark shadows and highlights accentuate his frantic state of mind.
OVID tv’s CREEPY is a Mix of Family Drama, Horror and Detective Crime Procedural
Musical additions of sinister and foreboding strings enhance already tense encounters between characters. There is a constant sense of dread and tension, leaving us longing for a breaking point and relief.
This is a film that finds many ways to get under our skin. In this writer’s view, the nuanced performances go a long way to create unease and drama. Mr. Nishino is an especially unpredictable character-- unsettling both Yasuko and us at the same time. At times, he is very antisocial, avoiding eye-contact with Yasuko while she offers a gift of homemade chocolates. Without warning he becomes angry when she asks to meet his wife. Yet just as quickly, Mr. Nishino smiles--friendly and open.
Every character’s odd behavior leads us to feel a sense of unpredictability and suspense, but at times it left this viewer feeling confused and unsure of the characters’ actual motivations. You should also get ready to be shocked by how many twists are in the final act. Overall, the performances, cinematography and music create a film that truly leaves us constantly guessing.
Viewers looking to get their hearts racing should check this one out, while others that may not be able to stomach the handful of moments of graphic violence and many untied loose-ends may want to think twice.
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
To watch CREEPY, visit OVID.tv’s site.
Images Courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author: Ricardo Rico
Ricardo thinks it's unfortunate that there’s not enough time in the day or in a lifetime to see all the great works of art that have been made, are being made, and will be made. Luckily, this does mean that there’s always a new and surprising piece of art to be found wherever you look. That’s why he’s constantly adding new films, albums, books, and occasionally, video games to his list of pieces to check out. He likes to create just as much, whether it's with a camera, laptop or guitar, and is always working on shooting another film or writing another screenplay or song. This keeps his mind sharp, while soccer, weightlifting and walks with his dog give him the endurance to keep searching for the next great work he’s yet to discover.