Sometimes good neighbours don’t always become good friends. This seems to be the underlying feeling to Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest film Creepy. After being stabbed by a suspect, detective Koichi Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) has left the force and has moved to a new suburban neighbourhood with his sweet and friendly wife Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) and their dog Max, and has taken a job as a university lecturer in criminal psychology. His old colleague Nogami (Masahiro Higashide) wants to bring him back in on an old case, that of an entire family disappearing six years previously, leaving only the unreliable witness of the teenage daughter Saki (Haruna Kawaguchi) behind. Meanwhile Takakura begins to notice increasingly stranger things about his new neighbour, Masayuki Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa), particularly the man’s behaviour towards Yasuko.
There’s something delightful about movies that like to peel aside the facade of normality to expose the rot and the sin underneath. Creepy might not be up there with the best examples of this, but it’s still a very well done thriller nonetheless. A key part of this the central performances. Hidetoshi Nishijima is quietly intense as Takakura; clearly wanting to embrace his new life with his wife but drawn back into a case with surprising links in his present. The odd-ball neighbour Nishino is given an unnerving quality by Teruyuki Kagawa that deeply instils in you a feeling that there is something very off about this person. It’s little things; like the slightly stiff way he and his daughter interact, or the fact that he acts somewhat aggressive when his wife is mentioned. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s always wearing shorts; I don’t know about you but I think that after years of Hannibal I expect my creepy guys to be well-dressed. Whatever the reason, every time Nishino is onscreen you are watching him and waiting for what might happen.
There is also some wonderful camera work. The use of stillness at times is vital in a film like this and it is done very well, but also some great flowing shots with one particular moment of an ascending camera shot moving up to look down on Takakura as he puzzles over his next move really sticking out.
The film does ask you to accept a lot of contrivances. What are the odds that a former detective would move next door to someone linked to a closed case that he wasn’t even involved in, and that he has been drawn into at both the urging of an old co-worker and the random curiosity of a new colleague? Also whilst the film twists and turns to pleasing degrees at a slow, but interesting rather than boring, pace, it never manages to throw you a curveball that will shock or startle you. Although, if nothing else, the killer’s body disposal method might gross you out. There are also moments when you just want to scream at Yasuko “Just tell your husband!” as Nishino’s behaviour towards her because more and more sinister.
Squeaky moments aside, Creepy is still well made and a good watch and just might make you think twice before you pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar.