Seeing acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa return to his horror roots, Creepy is an expertly crafted, tense experience, a film that carefully weaves an atmosphere full of mystery and dread, showing just as much interest in the psychological toll malice has on the human psyche as it does in providing the audience with a thrilling experience. The film is centered around recently retired Takakura, a former police detective, who now works as a Professor of criminal psychology at the local university. Having just moved into a new home, Takakura and his wife, Yasuko, have started anew, leaving their more chaotic life in the big city behind them, where they to find a place they can call home. While Takakura's wife struggles to make friends with the local neighbors, including Nishino, a strange man with a sick wife and young daughter, Takakura receives a request from an ex-colleague to help solve a case of a missing family, one that has gone unsolved for over six years. Takakura can't resist the urge to help unravel the mystery of this unsolved case, but the deeper he gets into the investigation, the more he begins to suspect that his new neighbor, Nishino, may in some way be connected. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Creepy is a horror film based in reality, fixating the inherent evil and darkness that can exist in humankind. Everything in Creepy feels genuine and possible, with the film's narrative having as much in common with a dark, crime thriller such as David Fincher's Seven, as it does with traditional horror. There are no jump scares, no didactic decisions made for the sake of startling the audience, no wasted scenes simply their to serve the narrative, only a methodical, well-constructed drama that slowly unravels itself to reveal the true evil lurking underneath the surface. The juxtaposition of Takakura's investigation into the missing family with Yasuko's attempts to befriend the off-putting Nishino is intriguing from the very onset, with Creepy essentially telegraphing exactly where it is going, though it doesn't matter, given the skilled direction involved. A phenomenal performance by Teruyuki Kagaawa as the unsettling Nishiro certainly helps, teetering the line between diabolical and socially misunderstood early on, adding a sliver of doubt around what exactly his intentions are, even though the film seems to be leading towards diabolical intentions. Without going into details that could spoil Creepy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa has created a film that wishes to examine the psychological nature of horror, deconstructing the power the mind has over the body, with Nishino being a character who essentially gains power and influence over others due to the slow-burning psychological torture he instills in his victims. The complacent nature of fear is what Kiyoshi Kurosawa's narrative relies on, painting a convincing and introspective look into the psychological nature of violence and horror, showcasing the effect it has on all of us through Takakura's wife, Yasuko, a woman who herself is more susceptible due to her feelings of loneliness as a housewife. One of the main reasons Creepy works so well is Kiyoshi Kurosawa's phenomenal direction, using space and framing to perfection in creating a film that is quiet but assured in its impending sense of dread that comes to encapsulate the entire film. Everything about Kurosawa's direction is nuanced and assertive, full of intricately designed photography that plays with the audience's perceptions, with the space of the frame being their window into this creepy world, one in which Kurosawa himself controls, choosing what the viewer can see and what rests outside of the frame. Whether it's lingering on a particular composition longer than expected, or using slight camera movements to provoke tension in the viewer, Kurosawa's film plays with the viewers psychologically from start to finish, creating a steady, quiet sense of unease that stays with them throughout the films' running time. A film that shows as much interest in character, theme, and narrative, as it does in horror, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Creepy is a phenomenal and welcome return to the genre, exhibiting a subtle, consistent sense of dread that is bound to stick with the viewer long after the narrative plays out.
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