After he is almost killed by an escaped psychopath, police detective Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) gives up his career in Tokyo to become a university lecturer, teaching criminal psychology. But when he and his wife Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) move to the suburbs, they find their new neighbours are less than welcoming, especially Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa) who lives next door with his wife and teenage daughter. Nishino’s strange behaviour seems to turn on a dime. When Yasuko tries to befriend him, he talks to her as if there is no problem and then complains about her to Takakura. But, in the shortest space of time, Takakura returns home to find Nishino in his house – Yasuko has given Nishino and his daughter cooking lessons. Something isn’t adding up about their strange neighbour, and Takakura suspects the man may have been involved in the mysterious disappearance of a local family several years earlier. But as Takakura investigates, he finds his life slowly spinning out of control. Worse still, a weird bond of dependency seems to be developing between Yasuko and Nishino that promises to become extremely nasty. Takakura suspects an elaborate trap is closing, but will he and Yasuko escape with their lives?

The tagline on Creepy’s PR releases is ‘Do you really want to know who your neighbours are?’ and, indeed, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s new film is an interesting addition to the ‘bad house next door’ genre. More psychological thriller than horror movie, it’s as smooth as clockwork for the first seventy minutes of its 130-minute running time but – like so many other movies in that genre – it loses its way as soon as the truth about Takakura’s neighbour is revealed, and not only does the tension seep out but the illogicalities begin to – ahem – creep in.

It’s hard to say where the film goes wrong without giving too much away, but most of the faults lie in the character of Nishino. Although Teruyuki Kagawa plays the role very well (and does the film’s title justice) he hasn’t got the looks or the charisma to pull off what the screenplay suggests. True, he’s oily and cunning and definitely not somebody you should turn your back on, but how he develops the kind of trust necessary to insinuate himself into his (maybe) victim’s lives is a complete mystery. It’s suggested that drugs play a part, but if that’s how he exerts his hold over Yasuko then it all happens too quickly to really make sense. And why does his teenage daughter (or is she?) stick around? Still, Nishino’s apparent lack of social skills does undermine Takakura’s theory that all true psychopaths are ultra-pleasant, so maybe that’s why it takes Takakura a while to start joining the dots.

But what really works for Creepy, beyond that excellent first seventy minutes, is the way Kurosawa and his cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa use the character’s environments to really fill in the blanks of the story: in the sterile orderliness of the police station or university Takakura has control, but as soon as he and Yasuko are in the suburbs, delivering chocolates to try and ingratiate themselves with their new neighbours, he seems far less certain. More than that, the set design of Nishino’s house, with its front yard that looks like a building site, all dark shadows and concealed angles even in the brightest sunlight, puts us on edge before Nishino ever appears. It’s cleverly manipulative filmmaking and if Kurosawa could have sustained this sense of menace across the film’s entire running time, Creepy might have been very special.

Still, despite its faults, Creepy is definitely worth catching up during its theatrical run (from November 25 in the UK & Ireland). Eureka already have a bluray & DVD release slated for January 2017 but this kind of film should be seen with an audience. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch it on the big screen.

Movie Review: Creepy
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About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white