The films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa were a revelation to me in October. I started with Pulse (2001), then went back to Cure (1997), and both were masterpieces. Twenty years after Cure, Creepy (2017) is in a similar mould, playing with the framing of scenes to heighten uncanny feelings and making everyday events seem disturbing. Like in Cure, Kurosawa uses the charisma of psychopaths to drive the story, and Masahiro Higashide’s Nogami is a fascinatingly unpleasant creation.
Detective Takakura is a criminal psychologist. After he is wounded by an escaped psychopath, he retires to be a university lecturer, but when an ex-colleague comes to ask him for help on an old case, he is drawn back into police work. Meanwhile, his wife Yasuko is trying to make friends with neighbours after moving into their new home, but the man next door, Nogami, seems to have no social skills and odd ideas about personal boundaries.
The characters are mostly alone and focussed on their individual lives. The source of Nogami’s weird power over people is never explained, which means it’s hard to believe the characters would make some decisions they make, but that’s not to take away from the skill of the filmmaking. I don’t know Japan well enough to know if Kurosawa is making a point about Japanese society, but when there is a predator camouflaged nearby, without a village to shout a warning, people can be picked off, and that applies everywhere.