The Creeping (PANIC) Crawls Under Your Skin with Effective Ghost Story
Title: The Creeping
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Jamie Hooper
Writer: Jamie Hooper, Helen Miles
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: Riann Steele, Sophie Thompson, Jane Lowe
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2022.
Anna (Riann Steele) moves back in with her grandmother Lucy (Jane Lowe) to assist with her care after her father Harry (Jonathan Nyati) passes away. Once there, she is greeted by Lucy’s cheerful home nurse Karen (Sophie Thompson) and gets reacquainted with her grandmother. Unfortunately, Lucy’s memory is in flux, where sometimes she doesn’t remember where she is or that Anna is her granddaughter. Not long after she settles in, Anna begins to experience strange and unsettling happenings in the house that lead her to believe that something is wrong.
Back to basics storytelling and tonally consistent scares make The Creeping a solid supernatural horror film.
A simple story is elevated by its strong cast and deliberate filmmakers. At the beginning, we are given an ambiguous enough cold open that sets the tone for something unsettling. Something ominous is afoot in grandmother’s house and we know that it will be back with a vengeance. The Creeping does an excellent job of breadcrumbing its viewers, despite its familiar story. While it never quite reaches a truly terrifying level on the scare meter, The Creeping boasts a dark tale of family secrets, cover ups, and murder to be entertaining and compelling.
It’s nice to see a subversion and The Creeping certainly delivers. The main take here on the trope involving wrongly murdered ghosts is deliciously gratifying. The ending is satisfying in the way it ties up the various character arcs without tying everything in a bow. Additionally, it is nice to see regular people who are kind to one another. A common trope in horror is to focus on the inner drama of a group of people while the world crashes down around them. Everyone in The Creeping seems to genuinely care about each other, which makes it easier to relate to and root for them. Their characters still have flaws and issues and are otherwise interesting, but they just aren’t tied to that sort of interpersonal conflict.
Anna is a wonderful character in her own right and a fantastic leading player. Full of care, patience, and passion, she has a strong desire to right the wrongs of the past. Her willingness to fight for her grandmother despite her condition is admirable. Her politeness and introversion make this difficult for her, but she pushes on regardless. While less developed, Karen also engenders much love too. She’s an exemplary nurse with a heart of gold. The only issue is she doesn’t have much going on other than this.
Beyond its story, The Creeping is simply a well-made indie film. Well-paced and well shot, this ghost story favors long, unnerving shots that beg to get underneath your skin. Establishing a decidedly eerie tone that permeates the whole film, The Creeping gives you a feeling reminiscent of its title. Aesthetically pleasing, the film has a distinct 70s vibe not only in its story but also its overall ambiance. Its wardrobe is the most distinct feature but between its set, filmmaking techniques, and even acting choices, the film achieves its cohesive vibe in a way that feels authentic.
While The Creeping is quite strong in most aspects, its noticeable weak spot shines through due to its budget. Despite a few good angles, the ghost special effects are lacking. It is evident that it is more of a budget issue than creative one. Had they been toned down a bit more, it likely would have been enough to give the film a distinctly darker feel. Perhaps, though, it is a good thing that the film chooses to employ something wackier. Circling back to its aesthetic choices, these special effects, while lacking to a modern audience, would be perfectly acceptable if it was released in the era it portrays.
A refreshing watch, The Creeping doesn’t pretend it is anything novel. Good ole’ fashioned ghostly mayhem and endearing characters elevate this indie gem to a higher caliber than the rest of the generic supernatural horrors released as of late. Much of the credit can go to the excellent cast and the superb design team. This aesthetically pleasing 70s throwback is perfect horror escapism for those seeking something straightforward and free of the pretentiousness that can sometimes befall smaller films attempting to “stand out”. Regardless, this is one to put on your list and I have a creeping suspicion that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did too.
Overall Score? 6.5/10