After last year’s tepidly-received Journey to the Shore proved a curious misfire, Kiyoshi Kurosawa chose to return to the familiar motifs of his most successful crossover work: the procedural, impotent detectives, and psychological abstraction. This naturally, and unflatteringly, places Creepy alongside some of Kurosawa’s strongest works, in particular Cure and Charisma. But where those earlier works probed deeply—Charisma’s metaphor-bound contemplation of the individual’s place in a rapidly modernizing world and the shared psychosis of predator and prey explored in Cure—Creepy is instead content to float lazily by on its surface intrigue, offering a solitary, comically half-baked psychological conceit as its only bid for differentiation. It’s telling that, after a decade-plus run as the near full-creative force behind each of his films (including several near-masterpieces), three of Kurosawa’s past four films have been based on novels, and have employed co-screenwriters. Creepy texturally feels like Kurosawa, but it’s empty of his usual substantive characters, intelligence, and style — which makes the nature of its creative causality feel pretty clear.
Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival 2016.