Creepers: Review #2

by William Burns

Although Lynn Sorel has shared her wonderfully comprehensive review of Creepers on HNN, this impressive anthology film deserves more attention. Creepers harkens back to the Roger Corman/Amicus anthologies filled with Weird Tales-esque pulp thrills, chills, and laughs. Taking its stories from literary sources, Creepers’ underlying theme (as portrayed in the blackly humorous wrap around sequences) is the clash between 21st century terror and the more stately, Gothic excesses of a decadent past that is slipping farther away year by year. The first segment is an adaptation of folklorist Lafcadio Hearn’s “Of a Promise Broken,” masterfully directed by Christian Walker. Calling to mind a sinister Merchant Ivory film or a malevolent episode of Downton Abbey, this elegant short film focuses on when the departed won’t let go of the living and how expectations can be damning. Giving perhaps the best performance in the entire film, Catherine Ashton plays a new wife who is tormented by the ringing of a bell that becomes a harbinger of doom. Jeremiah Kipp updates Edgar Allan Poe’s “Berenice,” a tale of destructive obsession and abnormal love. Actor Thomas Mendolia cuts a very Poe-esque figure as the neurotically damaged yet coolly calculating protagonist. Gregory Lamberson’s “Gave Up the Ghost” shifts moods to a satiric commentary on contemporary horror tropes and our over reliance on technology. This sketch about a self absorbed author who must face the ultimate writer’s nightmare is enlivened by a delusional narrator who takes hyperbole to another level. The final tale is a version of Joe R. Lansdale’s short story “By the Hair of the Head” brought to sinister life by director Mike T. Lyddon. Lyddon’s adaptation is a slice of historically evil Americana as a new tenant in an old house learns a terrible lesson in voodoo and familial attachment from his landlord. Brian Lannigan’s performance as a ventriloquist who is too attached to his doll is much creepier than anything in Annabelle. Creepers is much more than the sum of its parts, standing as a frighteningly entertaining film that demonstrates that the anthology format can still be a vital force in horror cinema. 

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