Monday, December 10, 2018

What a Big Camera You Have


They made a sequel to Creep! It's a full one minute longer than the first film's brief 77 minute running time. It damn well better earn those 60 seconds. 

Quick Plot: Now calling himself Aaron (the name of his most recent victim), the man we met in Creep as Josef is continuing his odd hobby of befriending lonely people, getting under their skin, and murdering them without warning. The shame is that his heart just isn't in it anymore.


A few hours away, a struggling filmmaker named Sara is feeling down that her documentary web series "Encounters" is tanking in the youtube views. When she sees "Aaron's" Craig's List ad seeking a filmmaker ("fans of Interview With a Vampire a plus"), she decides it's just weird enough to make for the subject of her series finale. 


Of course, Sara has no idea that Aaron is a serial killer, and even after he confesses, she has no real reason to believe him. To Sara, this visit is the chance to finally explore something deep with her camera. Sure, Aaron is testing every boundary and clearly playing his own version of two lies and a truth with every statement that comes out of his mouth, but it's naturally just a tad too late before the reality really kicks in. 


Like Creep, Creep 2 is directed by Patrick Brice and written by Brice and star Mark Duplass. I enjoyed that film well enough, but found the unbalanced nature of pairing such a fascinating presence like Duplass with his bland target (played by Brice himself) a letdown. Creep 2 wisely improves upon this, using the same basic setup but putting Aaron/Josef's chronicler and possible victim on a much more even playing field. 


Played by Desiree Akhavan, Sara has a very specific confidence that allows her to challenge Aaron. With nearly two decades of post-Blair Witch film crews investigating subjects that will doom them in our public conscious, it's not easy to make a found footage horror film about an ambitious young director without leaving your audience sensing deja vu. Thankfully, Sara manages to feel fresh. Akhavan has a brave (if not always bright) energy totally fitting to a an experimental, fresh-out-of-film school documentarian, and her interaction with Aaron goes in a variety of directions you don't quite see coming.


It's a shame then, that Creep 2 has such a poorly executed ending. I won't spoil anything here, and the news that Creep 3 has been greenlit certainly takes some of the frustration out of my initial viewing. But dangit: Creep 2 goes so well for so long, then tosses in an incredibly rushed coda that just doesn't seem to line up with the story we've been watching.

High Points
By golly, is there a more engaging onscreen presence than Mark Duplass? It's also such a treat to see him get to play off such an interestingly drawn character as Akhavan's Sara (and as said earlier, such a gigantic step forward from the first film's costar)


Low Points
DAT ENDING

Lessons Learned
Death by blender should never be ruled out for execution

Perhaps documenting your fail-safe escape plan isn't the best way to keep a fail-safe escape plan secret

Wolf masks offer just enough peripheral vision clearance for safe country road driving


Rent/Bury/Buy
Creep 2 is a Blumhouse production that goes straight to Netflix, and like its predecessor, it makes perfect sense as a breezy streaming view. Mark Duplass continues to make incredibly weird (in the best of ways) choices, and watching him tap into whatever pleasantly unsettling darkness is within his Aaron is always a strange pleasure. Give it a go. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

I'll Have Another


I Drink Your Blood has a nifty distinction: the first film to be rated X purely for its violence. 

Sign me up.

Quick Plot: A diverse gang of devil worshippers makes camp in a small, nearly empty town filled with some decent abandoned real estate and a whole lot of rats. After raping a local woman, they ignite the fury of her ineffectual grandfather and wildly creative little brother Pete. 



Grandpa tries to exact revenge only to end up being forced to take LSD by a gaggle of hysterically laughing punk satanists high on rodent hunting (happens to the best of us). Peter, on the other hand, has a more solid plan. He shoots a dog infected with rabies, collects its blood, injects it into meat pies at the town's only market for food, and convinces his sister's tormenters to chow down.


As cinematic little brothers go, Peter is up there with the best of them

Since I'm not scientist, I have no choice but to take the movie at its logic that eating rabies-seasoned pot pies will turn the consumer into a ravenous zombie. 

Mayhem takes over the town as the rabies takes its toll, igniting pure savagery in some, suicidal tendencies in others, and insatiable lust in one who just happens to end up naked with a full construction crew. Since rabies (or at least, I Drink Your Blood's version of rabies) is spread by any touch of bodily fluid, it's not long before the whole town is either hunting or being hunted. 



I Drink Your Blood was directed by David Durston after producer Jerry Gross decided, if the internet is to be believed, that  "he wanted to make the most graphic horror film ever produced, but he didn't want any vampires, man-made monsters, werewolves, mad doctors, or little people." 


Success all around! Three years after I Drink Your Blood, George Romero would play with a similar concept in The Crazies (which happens to also costar I Drink Your Blood's Lynn Lowry). The Crazies is a scarier film, but there's an element of wacky fun to I Drink Your Blood that makes it a darn fun watch. It doesn't take long to hit full chaos, and when full chaos involves a LOT of severed limbs, who can complain?

High Points
I am, and will always be, an easy mark for frantic jazz used to enhance insanity, and Clay Pitts' score is perfectly applied in a way that truly takes the wacky tone to the perfect level of escalation


Low Points
You can't give me "old man force fed LSD" as a plot point without the fun of, you know, showing an old man high on LSD

Lessons Learned
You don't have to know about LSD to know abut rabies

The mark of a good machete is one that can sever a head from its body in just one swing


Satan was an acid head

Rent/Bury/Buy
I dug the heck out of I Drink Your Blood. It moves fast, in a wonderfully weird and over the top way. I found the film via a Netflix disc rental, so while it doesn't seem to be streaming anywhere, the disc does come loaded with a batch of special features worth checking out. Bon appetit!