Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring Hidetoshi Nishijima, Yuko Takeuchi, Masahiro Higaside and Teruyuki Kagawa.
Retired detective turned university professor Takakura is called upon by a former colleague to help in the investigation of a family that vanished six years prior, with the daughter of the family being the sole remaining member and offering conflicting reports of events to investigators. As Takakura looks into this case, he becomes increasingly curious about his new neighbour, Nishino an odd man whose family may or may not be entirely who he claims them to be, and who may know more about the missing family than Takakura realises.
Now I don’t know about you dear readers, but I like a good detective story. Point me in the direction of a good book, film, TV show or otherwise in which a detective has to do mental ballet with a psychopath who likes to wear people’s innards as a nightgown, then I’ll love you forever. So I was mightily excited when my flickering overlords pointed me in the direction of today’s film, the Japanese thriller Creepy, which while presenting us with an interesting mystery, doesn’t’ really succeed in hanging on the viewer’s attention.
Now, don’t let my rather downbeat introduction make you think that this film is bad, it really isn’t and there is something to praise about in it, most noticeably the acting.
The lead performance from Hidetoshi Nishijima as retired detective Takakura is excellent, coming across as world-weary, determined and intelligent. The introduction of the film which shows us Takakura attempting to talk down a knife wielding maniac is tense and exciting, especially when the detective brazenly confronts the killer while unarmed, with Nishijima coming across as believably authoritative and brave.
The other standout performance belongs to Teruyuki Kagawa as Nishino, and true to the title he is bloody creepy. Nishino initially comes off as a slightly awkward, socially ill prepared man, but we can initially shrug off our initial discomfort as the kind of nerves we all might have when meeting new people. But as the story progress, the character grows increasingly unsettling with Kagawa ramping up the creepy charm, creating an excellent performance that did make me shiver at times.
The investigation that drives the film’s story is also quite good, being engrossing and mysterious as we follow Takakura as he looks deeper into the case. One scene that to me stood out was a scene which the detective questions the surviving daughter being incredibly intriguing, with the room growing darker as his soft questioning develops into a much more aggressive interrogation, before brightening up again when it ends. A nice little visual touch to what could have been a fairly generic scene.
Although while the story is engrossing, it only manages to hold your attention for the first half or so and this is where the problems start, most glaringly in the pacing. Now I don’t mind a film with a slow pace, in fact, I prefer it when mystery films take their time with proceedings, as it allows the viewer to fully immerse themselves in the story. But with Creepy the pace severely drags its heels, with plot points that could be solved fairly easily being done so in twice the time necessary, and it did leave me becoming very bored by the 90-minute mark. Which brings us onto another issue not helped by the slow pace, the length, with the film is about 30 minutes or so too long, clocking in at just over 2 hours, that might not necessarily seem that long, but with a pace as slow as this film it can feel like an eternity.
Overall, Creepy is a fine film. With excellent lead performances and an intriguing mysterious story to tell, some viewers may find much to like about the film. However, I hesitate to recommend it, as the slow pace and overlong running time may leave many viewers feeling increasingly frustrated as it goes on, and while the ending is satisfying and solves the mystery, I was more relieved to have finished the film more than anything.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★