Creep is Britain's answer to the horror creature feature, a lean, mean exercise in tension and atmosphere. Unfortunately, while similar monster-oriented horror movies like Bubba Ho-Tep have recently enjoyed some measure of success thanks to a combination of good writing and solid scares, held together by solid direction and great performances, Creep has more in common with second-rate efforts like Jeepers Creepers.
The plot is fairly straightforward. Franka Potente is Kate, a young socialite who likes to spend her time at loud parties, mixing it up with the local yuppies. Tonight, she thinks she's going to hook up with George Clooney, but unfortunately she finds herself without a ride to the venue and decides to take the underground instead. Bad move. After falling asleep while waiting for her train, she finds herself locked in the station for the night, all alone... or is she? Turns out that various other individuals are hanging out in the vicinity, including Guy, an acquaintance who wants to get into her pants (Jeremy Sheffield); a young homeless couple (Paul Rattray and Kelly Scott) and their Jack Russell; and George (Vas Blackwood), a sewage worker. Also on hand to crash the festivities is a bloodthirsty creature that lurks in the shadows and has a penchant for hauling its victims off into the maze of tunnels and causing much blood to fly. With such a party pooper in their midst, will Kate and her unlikely accomplices be able to survive the night?
The film gets off to a bad start, with an overly-long prologue involving two hapless sewage workers being stalked by the beast, and never really picks up. We then cut to a noisy party where we are introduced to Kate, a flat and unlikeable individual. This same trait is occupied by every other member of the cast: there are unfortunately no real characters, only cardboard cutouts introduced for the sole purpose of putting them in dangerous situations and watching them run around screaming. Run Lola Run's Franka Potente has more than enough experience with running, which is a good thing, because it is essentially all that her character is required to do. And run she does, first in high heels, then barefoot, then in a pair of boots that seem to materialise out of the blue. Potente gives it her all but sadly can do little with writer/director Christopher Smith's weak script, which dutifully trots out every single "bump in the night" cliché known to man. Potente's performance is actually characteristic of virtually the entire cast: everyone puts a great amount of effort into the movie, but unfortunately, for all their talents (barring Jeremy Sheffield, who can't act), none of them have enough screen presence to elevate the material.
Smith's direction is little better. The look of the film is characterised by grimy, badly framed and unfocused shots that are hapharzardly thrown up on the screen with little sense of pacing. Occasionally, he throws in the odd interesting composition, but by and large the film looks ugly and without flair. The decision to shoot the film in scope was also an unwise one, for all too often the main action is clustered into a traditional 1.85:1 area. The best element of the film, surprisingly, it not the creature, who turns out to be a bizarre approximation of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and the demon from Hellraiser, but rather the sound design, which is often inspired, adding some atmosphere to what would otherwise be a very flat film. Flashy 5.1 sound effects alone can't save this production, however. Creep wants nothing more than to be a straightforward stalk-and-slash monster movie with loads of tension and some great kills. Unfortunately, though, it ultimately provides none of this.