Today at Fantasia

Our critics take on a mumblecore spin on found-footage horror and the tale of a teen caught in a mortifying time loop.

The following films are screening as part of the Fantasia Film Festival, on through Aug. 6.


Ever since the Paranormal Activity films showed that you could make boatloads of money by adding jump scares to home movies, the market has been cluttered with garbage found-footage horror movies of varying levels of ineptitude. When I found out that Creep combined that handheld horror aesthetic with the work of mumblecore pioneer Mark Duplass, I half-expected it to just be 72 minutes of a phone filming the inside of a pocket while a muffled, aimless conversation about feelings was carried in the background. Thankfully that’s not the case. While Patrick Brice’s film doesn’t do much that hasn’t already been done 1,000 times over, it’s tight and effective, and not really much of a horror movie anyway.

Aaron (Brice) is a videographer who accepts a vague job at a mountain cabin. He shows up to find an overly-friendly man named Josef (Duplass) who claims he wants a video document of himself for his unborn son. As Aaron grows more comfortable with Josef, their relationship begins to take on an increasingly bizarre vibe.

Creep doesn’t exactly reinvent the found-footage genre or exploit it, but its stylistic limitations place the film square on Duplass’s shoulders (he also co-wrote and produced). He’s on-screen for 95 per cent of the film and he manages to carry it with his blend of off-putting niceness and genuine psychopathy. Duplass has come a long way from his debut in a no-budget movie (The Puffy Chair) with big roles in popular films, but this is the first movie I’ve seen him truly stretch himself into something utterly discomfiting. The result is less Paranormal Activity and closer to a Single White Female-esque thriller that holds few surprises but is nevertheless solid. Creep is overall a little schematic and slight to be truly memorable as a horror movie, but as a vehicle for Duplass, it’s top-notch. (Alex Rose)

Creep screens tonight, Monday, July 28, 9:40 p.m.


The first feature by writer-director Dan Beers is about Rob, a young guy forced to relive what should rank with the most mortifying experiences possible for a teenage male: being caught by your mom, post wet dream, in a soaked pair of underpants. He is trapped in an apparent time loop that forces him to replay not only the traumatic waking-up, but all of the terrible day that ensues over and over again. He seeks the help of his friends, perpetual horn dog Stanley and platonic friend Gabrielle, to navigate through the day, as he encounters a pee-filled Super Soaker and a hot classmate keen to take his virginity seemingly ad infinitum.

This is not an unfamiliar plot for those who’ve seen Groundhog Day, or any number of ’80s teen movies for that matter, but Beers makes it fresh. He has a lot of help from his fine cast of mostly unfamiliar faces. John Karna particularly excels as Rob, with a low-key charm reminiscent of Topher Grace. He carries the movie with ease; he manages to be likable even when his character is at his least appealing, when the depression caused by his situation makes him act like a jerk.

Much the same could be said of the movie as a whole. Premature comes across as a much filthier John Hughes movie, with its gleeful ethnic stereotyping and its bouts of misogyny. You could say that the likes of Porky’s were offensive because they didn’t know any better, as was Hughes on occasion — remember Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles? Beers is quite consciously pushing the envelope with the audience’s comfort level. This unfortunately means the film isn’t as consistently funny as it might have been. The willful tastelessness takes its toll; many of the offensive jokes don’t work, and some of the gags drag on and on past tolerance, like the weirdly protracted fight scene involving a gypsy grandma. It’s a credit to the makers that the film always wins you back into its corner in the end. (Mark Carpenter)

Premature screens today, Monday, July 28, 7:30 p.m.
Fantasia tickets can be purchased at Concordia’s Hall building (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) for $10 each, or online ($11 each), here.