Q&A: Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass talk “CREEP” Trilogy PlansMovies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
It’s been a long road for Patrick Brice’s CREEP, but perhaps the path less taken proved to be fruitful for the enigmatic fright flick, which certainly goes beyond what some may expect from a routine stalker flick. But now, that road has finally lead to a destination, with the film debuting on iTunes shortly before taking on a new life via Netflix. With the film drawing buzz and dominating the VOD charts, FANGORIA caught up with CREEP star Mark Duplass and director Patrick Brice to talk about the film, the trilogy rumors and creating a slow-burn found footage flick that lives up to its title…FANGORIA: How did CREEP initially come together?
MARK DUPLASS: Well, Patrick and I are friends, and we spend a lot of time together people watching and we realized how much we like odd people and strange behavior. We have a deep love of bizarre characters, really. I was at a place in my career where I was looking to do something a little reckless, different, fun and arts-and-crafts-y. At this point, Patrick had not made a feature length film yet; he had made a short documentary that I really loved. So we set about making CREEP differently.
It wasn’t like, “Here’s a 90-page perfect script. Let’s go out and shoot it!” It was more like, “Let’s go to this cabin, make a five-page outline and just start shooting for free, and let’s see what happens.” CREEP sort of evolved out of that over the course of the next 18 months. We would shoot, edit, show people, get notes and then shoot some more. It was a really fun way to do it.
FANGORIA: How did Jason Blum become a part of CREEP?
DUPLASS: I’ve known Jason for a while now. I’ve done a couple of his movies, and we are both producers in the industry who work in a similar way. We both like to shake things up and do things in new ways. Halfway through the process of making the film, we showed Jason a rough cut and we brought him on as a partner once we realized CREEP was more of a horror movie. There was a moment where the movie was called “Peachfuzz,” and once we started collaborating with Blumhouse, that’s when CREEP became the animal that it is today.
FANGORIA: When the film was “Peachfuzz”, was the film more of a dark comedy or was the film still going to lean into horror territory?
PATRICK BRICE: Ever since the conception of CREEP, we had always thought of it more of a dark comedy, and any moment of our outline with psychological terror in it were not the primary moments in the film that we were focusing on, though. We were much more focused on making a dark MY DINNER WITH ANDRE that was also funny and a little sick, but also engaging and a little more sensitive. But once we started showing the footage to people and getting their feedback, the audience was primarily responding to the darker and scarier elements of the movie.
So from there, we really decided to go further into what the movie really wanted to be and push it 20 – 30% further into the horror realm. That was exciting because it was a fun experimentation process going into the actual production of the film. It was really rewarding to give into that urge and allow the film to become CREEP.
FANGORIA: What was approaching the found footage element like for each of you, considering it was sort of a new experience for both of you in terms of acting and directing?
DUPLASS: I have a lot of independent movies that I make, so the process wasn’t totally different. But the thing that was exciting about found footage is not having to wait for traditional lighting, being able to shoot takes from front to end without stopping, having the full freedom to do whatever we want without worrying about focus blocks or breaking frames; there was just total freedom and it allows you to be a better performer in the long run thanks to that looseness.
BRICE: And for me, as a director, to not be reliant on the genre and to approach the film from moment to moment and needing to actually justify the camera being on for any given moment in the film was phenomenal. It was like filming Mark doing a performance art piece for 80 minutes, and it was good for both of us. CREEP became a found footage movie by default because we wanted to make a movie without a crew, essentially. We wanted to make something quick together, and we didn’t want to be beholden to anything or anyone that would limit our creative flow.
FANGORIA: Once the outline was written up, was there any rehearsal as to what you were going to do or were the performances completely improvisational?
DUPLASS: We stuck with the outline for everything that we wanted to do. There weren’t any rehearsals, and as we reshot and were getting further along in the movie, things became a little bit more acute and fast. So we could go from a wide shot in one space, a one shot somewhere else, a two shot here and there. So things became a little more finessed once we were able to dial it in. But when we started out, we didn’t really know what was going to happen, and that was actually part of the electricity and fun of it.
FANGORIA: Considering both of you have worked in comedy and the initial dark comedy approach to the project, did that help establish the doubt surrounding Josef as a imposing, creepy villain or was that more-or-less the product of your sensibilities?
BRICE: I think it’s both reasons, and that’s what we love about the film. Comedy is something we love and is something Mark has done for a very long time, and it’s something I definitely appreciate. I think dark comedy was an element I really wanted to explore, but at the same time, with a film like this where you’re essentially spending a large chunk of time discovering who this character is and trying to weed out whether this character is dangerous or sick or not, obviously using humor was a way to play into that. Humor and horror go hand in hand; the most successful horror movies that I know always incorporate comedic elements within them. You have to have those moments where the tension is being released a little bit.
FANGORIA: How did you approach dissipating the horror over the course of the movie, especially considering that you’re trying to sustain disbelief on Josef’s nature?
DUPLASS: By the time we hit the middle of the film, we messed around with information and how much of it you were going to get and when you would get it. But what’s interesting about a movie like CREEP that plays very quietly and patiently and has very few traditional sound design scares in it is that what plays as scary in one moment actually plays funny in another moment. It changes the viewing experience. If you were to watch the movie alone in the dark on VOD or Netflix, it might actually play scarier than a theater full of people because if someone laughs, you might feel like it gives you permission to laugh. Some of those moments we don’t even control; it’s not like we can outright tell people, “This is going to be a scary moment. This is going to be a funny moment.” Some of those moments are both.
FANGORIA: Considering the film has already hit the festival circuit, do you think the film is best consumed via a home media platform like streaming or VOD?
DUPLASS: We made the decision that the best way to get the film out to people is via Netflix, which is getting great, worldwide attention right now. It made more sense than a worldwide day-and-date release, and it was fun to have over a year for the movie to live its life in a festival environment as well.
FANGORIA: There have been rumblings for a very long time that CREEP might actually turn into a trilogy. Is that still the case, and if so, will Patrick still be involved in a directorial capacity?
BRICE: CREEP started with Mark and I and will continue with us. We are definitely having conversations moving forward, even today, about the future of CREEP.
FANGORIA: In that case, now that we know Josef’s true nature, will you approach the CREEP sequels as straightforward horror films and how might you want to subvert the audience now that you’ve lifted the veil?
DUPLASS: That is a great question. We have been talking about all of those things, and now that we know what we know about Josef, what does it mean for the sequel? We feel that the sequel might have Josef, but it might not have Josef at all. We have lots of different permutations on CREEP that we’re talking about, and we feel like there will be more than one sequel.
FANGORIA: With the film on VOD and coming to Netflix tomorrow, is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?
BRICE: In terms of horror, it’s just all CREEP, all the time. It’s been so rewarding working on CREEP and with the response we’ve received on the film this week, it’s been all the validation we need to go forward and make more CREEP films.
CREEP is currently available exclusively on iTUNES, and hits Netflix Instant Streaming tomorrow.