Mark Duplass Thinks He Knows Why Audiences Connected With Creep

The terror of found footage horror is predicated on the notion that the characters that shot it ultimately met a fatal end, which fills you with a sense of dread. It's the anticipation of something bad happening, and the latest found footage movie to fill me with similar, albeit slightly different, unease is "Creep."

Director Patrick Brice ("There's Someone Inside Your House") is responsible for bringing the effectively tense "Creep" films to the screen, both of which star Mark Duplass ("Paddleton") as an enigmatic, well, creep who hires people to film him doing things around his house before unleashing the full extent of his much sinister persona. In the first '"Creep," a videographer named Aaron (Brice) is hired on Craigslist to document Duplass' Josef, a supposedly dying father, throughout an average day in order to leave something behind for his son once he's gone. But the longer Aaron spends time with Josef, the more things just don't add up, sending him into a full-blown nightmare.

When it came time to do "Creep 2," even though Duplass and Brice had more tools at their disposal to expand upon this character, they still wanted to maintain a modest playfulness – both onscreen and on set – that came with making the first film (via Daily Dead):

"The approach this time was to make sure we maintained that sense of childlike play, and the arts and craft-style of filmmaking that came to define the first one. We had a larger budget. We could have had a bigger crew, but we specifically decided to keep it very small, and still shoot from an outline, and improvise and try to find the fun in those moments right on set as it happened."

Creep plays on the fear that anything can happen at any time

The immersion of found footage horror allows you to experience the terror firsthand. It's about the discovery of something really, really bad that's about to manifest itself, which means that just about anything can happen at any time. "Creep" preys on that fear and Duplass knows it.

When asked by Daily Dead if the intimacy of making these films is what brings audiences in, Duplass noted that it probably has to do with the unpredictability of putting a movie like this together. Whether a scene requires one take or several, it sounds like working on "Creep" can either lead to a spontaneous stroke of genius or a great idea that takes a little more effort:

"Sometimes we jump into a scene, and the scene just happens magically, and we're done in seven minutes. And then, sometimes we shoot it five times, and it's terrible. Then we sit around for three hours depressed, trying to figure out how to rewrite the scene, what to do to make it work, and then we get it, and as soon as we get it, we shoot it right there."

You never quite know which direction these movies are going to take you down, and that's what a lot of people find scary. When you're in the company of this character, almost anything can happen. Duplass excels in the role because he's able to make you laugh with a strange offhand comment before going into a deadly serious state of mind that chills you to the bone.

Sometimes he's even able to combine the mixed personas in the same scene, such as when Josef shows off Mr. Peachfuzz to Aaron.

There's no forgetting Mr. Peachfuzz

I stumbled upon "Creep" on Netflix years ago on a whim, knowing next to nothing. All I knew was that it was 77 minutes, which is an admirably restrained runtime, and it starred Duplass, who I knew from "The League" at the time.

Some horror movies leave you with images you'll never forget and this is certainly one of them. Earlier in the film, Josef introduces us to Mr. Peachfuzz, a persona he adopts upon placing a hairy werewolf mask onto his head. Right around the point where Aaron decides he's had enough, Josef decides to bring out Mr. Peachfuzz. There's something so terrifying about trying to get out of a dangerous situation, only to see that your only exit is being blocked off by a man wearing that mask and saying nothing. The way Duplass just stands there triggers my fight or flight. 

Rather than waiting for Josef to make his move, Aaron does the smart thing and rams him. He ultimately does escape, but if you've seen the movie, it's certainly not the last of Josef's reign of terror on him.

Duplass doesn't seem as thrilled about how "Creep 2" turned out, which is a shame because it's just as creepy as the first one, and really gives a greater insight into how this psychopath operates. It's yet to be seen if Brice and Duplass will return to round out the proposed trilogy with "Creep 3," but I sincerely hope it happens.

"Creep" and "Creep 2" are currently streaming on Netflix