A Psychological Thriller
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Creepy” introduces us to Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a former detective who after a violent and nearly fatal encounter with a psychotic young man leaves the police force to teach criminal psychology at University. With his wife Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) distracted by trying to get to know the neighbors in their new neighborhood, Takakura becomes obsessed with an old unsolved case. While he struggles to shake off his old occupation, he doesn’t notice his wife becoming friendly with the extremely creepy neighbor Mr. Nishino.
Koichi Takakura is called in to interview a young serial killer. There are, according to Takakura, three types of serial killer. The first two, the ‘organized’ and the ‘disorganized’, make up the majority but there’s a third, far rarer and harder to catch type: a killer with “mixed characteristics”. Before he can question him the perpetrator escapes and runs through the station, leading to a hostage situation in the film’s opening sequence. Seven years later Takakura has quit active service and moved to the suburbs to take a position as a university lecturer in criminal psychology. At first Takakura appreciates the peace and quiet but his hunger for the past means it doesn’t take much persuading to get him to assist on a missing person’s case that was closed six years ago.
The film’s focus is on the degeneration of the family as an unsolvable crime to be examined but never resolved. While Takakura becomes deeply involved in the case, his wife introduces herself to their new neighbors including Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa), a curious gentleman who greets her with an unnerving mix of hesitation and underlying hostility. Then, one day, Nishino’s daughter Mio appears at their door and reveals a shocking secret.
The film is based on the award-winning novel by Yutaka Maekawa. This is a chilling psychological thriller as what happens in the plot thread coincides with the daily activities of Takakura’s wife who makes repeated attempts to get to know her neighbors and is met with hostility until she encounters the eccentric Mr. Nishino. Nishino alternates between socially awkward, rude, and somewhat charming but all with varying degrees of skin-crawling menace. Even his daughter, Mio, seems intimidated by him. He’s precisely the type of weirdo that inspires the title of the film.
These two plot strands eventually come together as Kurosawa masterfully builds the tension and dread leading up to that moment. Kurosawa favors atmosphere over gore, but he doesn’t shy away from ghastly imagery. Though the modus operandi of the film’s psychopath is wholly unique, it also deflates all of the built up tension. Once all of the puzzle pieces click into place, the pacing slows to a halt with it and this is disappointing and the ending is predictable yet even with that, “Creepy” is a testament to Kurosawa’s supreme mastery of slow-build suspense. It’s apropos that this film is called “Creepy” because, that is a great description of the film.
When Takakura realizes that the creepy neighbor lives in a cul-de-sac just like the lone survivor’s, he begins to suspect the man of being the culprit. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game that may leave Takakura and his wife’s rotting corpses vacuum-sealed in plastic.