You know what would've also been a really good title for Kiyoshi Kurosawa's latest? "Abject, Soul-filling Terror" or "Asphyxiating Existential Horror". So yeah, leave it to Kurosawa, one of the few actual masters of modern horror film to make a horror film about trust.
The title of a "master of genre" is too easy to give out nowadays, but this man solidifies his reputation with Creepy, as he seems to understand something so few people do when it comes to horror films explicitly built around a social theme; You don't just take a social phenomenon such as trust and break it to make your film terrifying. You take that idea and instead of breaking it, you twist it. You use it for nefarious purposes it was never intended to be used. Through this, you can achieve levels of terror horror films can only wistfully hope to aspire to.
Creepy absolutely nails that aspect. There are issues with it as a story – more on that later – but when it comes to making you feel like a corpse in a plastic bag that's slowly getting vacuum-sealed, it's on the money. The ever-present ambient hum that prevails over the film is key to it. It might be noises from a street, from a small park, from a university – or it might be high- or low-pitched beats, intensifying as scenes that begin as innocent grow more and more sinister. And when the film goes silent? You know everything has gone wrong.
The other key part is the ways in which Kurosawa manages to twist and turn his thematic focus up and around. This isn't a film that has plot twists in it. It's a very slow, steady progression over two hours. Trust is built over a length of time, and he does what he can to showcase this with the pacing of his film. But like I said, the true stroke of genius, mastery if you will, is hidden within what he does with trust. What his characters end up doing in the name of it, how they mistake absolute truths in their lives to still exist when trust – the typically most affluent and and loyal of human emotions – has eradicated them in their absence. It is absolutely insufferable to watch because it causes you mental anguish on terrifying levels.
This might be the new best Kiyoshi Kurosawa film and I don't say that lightly. The only detractor might be that in order for the trust concept to work, the screenplay has to take some leaps I wish were smoother. The protagonist, at one point, has all the power to stop the ongoings, and all he has to do is speak truthfully and in detail. Instead he rambles like a maniac even before the traumatic event that causes him to do so is revealed. I don't necessarily see it as a major detraction, since in terms of going this balls-deep in a theme some leaps are bound to be necessary. As such it feels as much of a leap as accepting that in the world of Ringu there are ghosts.
As a last note, let it be said that the psychopath in this film is probably the best performance I'll see this entire year and it's the 12th of January. He has the grin of a Brian Azzarello Joker brought to stark reality.