Needs more kitsch, but Elvira is absent

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Needs more kitsch, but Elvira is absent


In the absence of such nuisances as plot and acting, too many horror movies live and die by their “boo” moments ― the music reaches a suspenseful lull, the sound effects saturate the theater, and finally the grotesque rubber-suited man leaps out of the shadows, or a corpse drops from the ceiling, or a rat lands on the heroine, et cetera. These films, among them the British shriek flick “Creep,” have to depend on an audience looking not for a movie but for a theme park ride. It’s a haunted house with stationary chairs.
Near my family’s house in Los Angeles, there’s an amusement park called Knott’s Berry Farm, so called because ― stunningly ― it used to be a berry farm.
Knott’s, which is done up to look like an old Western pioneer town, has a couple of good roller coasters, or so I'm told. I don’t like roller coasters ― I usually only go because of the boysenberry funnel cakes, and the pie, and because I need to take every opportunity for social interaction I can get.
Every October for Halloween, though, the park turns itself into Knott’s “Scary” Farm. The icon of Halloween kitsch, Elvira, gives a nightly show, and legions of college student part-timers get done up as vampires or zombies and leap out from behind bushes, to much teenage female hopping and tittering.
“Creep” is kind of like that. Except there’s only one freak in prosthetics, it’s just a movie, and there are no boysenberry funnel cakes or pie. Oh, and Elvira is more entertaining.
In “Creep,” a party girl named Kate (Franka Potente) must give up on her dream of romancing George Clooney when she gets trapped in a locked subway station. Suddenly a man she hates (Jeremy Sheffield) shows up and tries to rape her, but don’t worry ― he gets his genitals cut off by a madman.
Kate finds two homeless people, and the three try to escape together, but of course this crazy person is one step ahead, and ends up going at the hobos with a bone saw. Later, Kate meets a remarkably stupid sewer worker who ends up with head through said saw. Blood spatters everywhere, chances to kill the bad guy are frustratingly passed up and the plot holes combine into a bottomless pit of nonsense.
Never mind asking how the bad guy, a doctor’s son, wound up living in a sealed-off underground hospital adjacent to the Charing Cross underground station, or why no one noticed that the exits were all covered in concrete, or where he found that gray prosthetic body suit he’s so obviously wearing ― there are no answers to these questions.
It is clear, at least, that the foley artists and sound designers had a blast making this film ― the way screams swing from channel to channel you’d think surround sound had just been invented. But in most of the scenes this just makes the film’s fakeness even more obvious.
Unfortunately, “Creep” never quite reaches the level of “so bad it’s good.” It’s just bad, even by its own standards ― I heard distressingly little female teenage tittering in the theater. A much more fun alternative: Get together with some friends and go to a real haunted house ― and maybe round off the night with some funnel cake.

by Ben Applegate
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