Monday, 13 January 2014
The Creeper (1977)
For the first half of The Creeper (aka Rituals, which appears to be the better known title), my reaction was 'I have seen this movie before. It was called Deliverance, and it had better acting'.
As it turned out, however, that's not an entirely fair appraisal of the movie. Which is not to say that the movie doesn't owe a huge debt to the better known film. It features a group of city slickers (all doctors, in this case) who go for a camping holiday in the wilderness and find themselves the targets of hostile attention from the locals. But the development is very different. Deliverance begins its conflict with the most confronting scene of the film, then dwells on the question of whether the protagonists' fears - and their violent actions as a consequence of those fears - are justified self-defence or the same savagery they have just experienced. This film begins with a relatively low-key element - the theft of their shoes - and then escalates from there. It also focuses on the stresses of the men's escape trek, both physical and mental. The wilderness of this film is far more a threat than the wilderness of Deliverance, lacerating their feet, besetting them with bee swarms, and half-drowning them in the river. The interpersonal conflicts between the group are also quite different, and for most of the film they simply aren't in a position to use violence against their persecutors.
So my initial assessment of the movie wasn't a fair one, but is it a good movie? Well, it's OK. The lighting is a real problem, though. It's often very dark and hard to see what's going on. I also thought the concluding sequence was quite underwhelming. The film seems to lose its way in the final 20 minutes. The film's at its strongest before that, when it deals with the men's physical and mental deterioration in the face of their difficult journey.
In the end, you're still better off watching Deliverance. Squeal for me, piggy!