Creepy ★★½


"A vision of absolute evil that somehow becomes more disquieting and suggestive as it becomes more obvious and literal," observes my A.V. Club colleague Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of one particular element in Creepy. Alas, I had precisely the opposite reaction to the movie as a whole, which stays masterfully true to its title for over an hour before abruptly shifting into...well, let's just say that I spent much more of its second half recalling Egoyan's The Captive than I would have preferred. Explanations cripple Kurosawa, who excels at evoking the uncanny but has no real taste for outright horror; Creepy is at its best when things are, a quality embodied in everything from Teruyuki Kagawa's Asperger-y performance to the proximity in which two characters are standing at the beginning of a shot. Even during this early, formally masterful stretch, though, I was concerned about the seemingly arbitrary/coincidental way that one of the narrative's two threads is introduced, with Takakura literally just randomly clicking on a colleague's research project until he happens to find an unsolved case that happens to wind up being [SPOILER]. Fervently hoped that the apparent connection between his investigation and the new neighbor would turn out to be a clever red herring, but no, and the film's last-ditch efforts at psychological complexity (e.g. Yasuko's sudden, out-of-nowhere confession of unhappiness in the middle of an escape from hell) are less than convincing, though the movie's final "line" got to me despite seeming to emanate from a thematic void. Were I capable of ignoring Creepy's outlandish, frequently nonsensical plot and focusing entirely on Kurosawa's control of the frame and tone, we'd be in business here. But I'm not.