Despite a few appropriately eerie moments, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Japanese thriller Creepy suffers from an inconsistent tone and unbelievable plot developments. This is a film that appears to be in two discordant parts, and perhaps should have been two different movies.
The first half features retired detective Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) investigating a missing persons case. A young woman is unable to explain why her father, mother, and brother all disappeared without a trace six years ago. Takakura’s intuition leads him to think there is more to the story than what the orphaned daughter will say. Meanwhile, Takakura and his wife Yasuko are settling in a new neighbourhood, where their attempts to ingratiate themselves to their neighbours fail miserably. One neighbour in particular, Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa) embodies creepiness, as he changes topics and demeanor in the blink of an eye, and also lurches as if he is possessed by a demon. We begin to wonder, are the neighbours related to the missing persons case?
The second half changes tack abruptly and becomes a Jessica Jones-esque thriller about mind control; however, there are no superpowers here. The device used for mind control is laughable and nonsensical, especially when characters under said mind control can resist anytime (apparently).
It’s perfectly acceptable to have fantastical elements within this genre; however, one should ensure that they are appropriately grounded in the film proper and that we become acclimatized to their existence. Look at the gradual addition of magic in Pan’s Labyrinth for example, or even, in the case of Jessica Jones, we know that Kilgrave can use mind control from the beginning. When tacked on at the end as a rationale for the mystery, it cheapens the effort we have put into solving it with the main character. The bad guy might as well have been cloned with a time machine.
The first half of the film is the strongest as Kagawa’s creepiness really does pay off, and I’m almost tempted to write another “solution” to the film’s central mystery myself to give him more to do in the second half instead of getting bogged down by a nonsensical plot device.