"Creep 2" Eschews Horror For Jet Black Comedy To Mostly Satisfying Results

“Creep 2,” the follow-up to Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass’ fiendishly fun 2014 found footage horror pic, finds itself at an even greater disadvantage than the average sequel. The claustrophobic dread that permeated the original – the terrifying possibility of the unknown – is out the window here, the murderous proclivities of its title character no longer in shroud.

If “Creep” was two parts horror, one part laughs, “Creep 2” necessarily flips the script, pivoting to head-on jet black comedy. What results is enjoyably nutty even if the thrill of discovery has faded like a latex wolf mask in sunlight.

Serial killer Josef aka Peachfuzz (Duplass) has assumed the name of his victim from the original film: Aaron. Still trolling Craigslist for targets to befriend, stalk, and then kill, “Aaron” finds himself at a crossroads in his “career.” As he laments to a hapless victim named Dave (Karan Soni) at the film’s outset, the fire for murder and video documentation thereof that once burned inside him has gone out, putting him firmly in the center of a midlife crisis.

Enter a similarly crestfallen videographer named Sara (Desiree Akhavan). Her fledgling web show “Encounters” about the private lives of lonely men has failed to grow an audience. She, too, is on the cusp of abandoning her calling, but a last flicker of determination puts her on a path that seems to point to her destiny – an enigmatic Craigslist poster named Aaron. In true Peachfuzz fashion, Aaron is fully, inexplicably nude within ten minutes of meeting his new recruit.

It’s not a stretch to call the rest of the film a romantic comedy, albeit one of the darkest in memory. Aaron and Sara’s uneven rapport is unquestionably effective, Duplass’ ponytailed performance gloriously off-kilter, the screenplay’s surfeit of darkly hilarious moments coming off as rapid fire in the context of an 80-minute running time. Yet, unlike in the first film, something is off; disbelief hangs heavy.

It’s hard to take when Sara writes off Aaron’s claim that he’s killed thirty-nine people, harder still when she interprets his presentation of video evidence as elaborately staged fiction. Instead, she categorizes him as a harmless freak show, her ticket to the big leagues of web documentarians. We can feel the movie’s weight shift uncomfortably from straight found footage to ‘90s-esque self-awareness, torpedoing any remaining chance for real scares.

But ignoring Sara’s impaired logic – impaired even for a genre film – is vital to enjoying the twists and turns that Aaron has in store, so we nod approval and go along. The upshot isn’t as memorable as “Creep,” but it is funny. The already announced trilogy capper “Creep 3” has all the opportunity in the world to build on the creeping insanity of “Creep 2.” A little more believability – and a few more scares – could make for one hell of a finale.

See you again soon, Peachfuzz. We’ll bring the Juicy Fruit.

-J. Olson

Rating: ★★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★ (Good)

Release Date: October 24, 2017
Studio: The Orchard, Blumhouse Productions, Netflix
Director: Patrick Brice
Screenwriters: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Starring: Mark Duplass, Desiree Akhavan, Karan Soni