Sitges 2017 Interview: Patrick Brice talks Creep 2 and an existential serial killer
Actor and director discusses going from documentaries to horror, the success of Creep and making a sequel knowing the twist.
The first Creep was a big surprise for me. I only saw it a couple of weeks before going to Sitges because after telling a friend that they were showing the sequel, he got mad at me for being able to see it so soon. So I played it off Netflix and experienced a kind of horror I haven’t felt in a long time. The fact that Creep was found footage, with a simple plot and not a big budget made it all the more terrifying, because it felt real. This is to say I was excited to talk with Patrick Brice, co-star of the first film, and director and co-writer of Creep 2. Just so you know, I had not seen the film before doing the interview, so there are absolutely no spoilers.
So this is going to be an interesting interview, since I haven’t seen the film. But I saw the first one not so long ago and loved it. How does someone come up with such an idea for a feature debut?
Well this all came up from conversations I had with Mark Duplass. I had just come out of film school, and my background was primarily from documentaries. What I really wanted to do was documentaries, I am a big fan of vérité documentaries like Frederick Wiseman and the Maysles brothers. My thought was that I was going to direct documentaries, but through this friendship with Mark, and him being kind of a mentor to me he started convincing me of doing a narrative film. We started talking about doing a film together, since we have similar a sense of humor.
So really the idea for Creep started for as a conversation about the production side of things. We started by asking ourselves how to make a film with no crew, and just one camera – but a shitty camera at that. We shot that first movie in 2012 and that camera is from like 2007, so it wasn’t really in fashion anymore. It was good for us because we knew we needed to focus on character and dialog and not so much on framing. I mean I think about the filming side because I’m more conscious about the aesthetics of things, as opposed to Mark who really doesn’t care how things look. That’s why the movie has some moments of deliberate framing.
We originally called the movie Peachfuzz, and it was meant to be a dark comedy. But after we shot it and screened it for people, they were responded to the moments of tension and dread. Then we ended up doing a bunch of re-shoots to capitalize on the horror of it. Normally it would be a very frustrating experience to change your movie so much after you’ve made it. But because it didn’t cost us anything and it was only us going back to the woods with a camera – I mean, it was a pain in the ass, but it was necessary. And making a movie that way, learning as we went made it easier when we did the sequel. For the first movie it was more of a discussion of how to make a movie, period. This time around it was more of a response to what we did before, so it was easier to get started.
But did the story change that much? I mean, did the title still refer to the wolf mask?
Yeah, I mean the story was pretty much the same. What changed was mainly the last 30 minutes of the movie, when it became more of a traditional stalker movie with the home invasion part. That was us responding to people liking the creepy aspects of the movie, us knowing the audience would respond to the DVD being sent to the house, and breaking in. But you know, it was fun to make it that way.
Since you originally wanted to make documentaries, but ended up directing and acting in a horror film, how was the learning process?
It was mostly not knowing what I was getting into. While making the movie I wasn’t aware that people would necessarily watch it, so in a way it was experimental. It also helped that I went to CalArts, this small school in Los Angeles that’s for the most part it’s very experimental and outside the mainstream. Having that background made it less weird to make this type of movie because I learned to find other ways to make movies.
Then how was it to work on a sequel, fully aware that people are not only going to watch it, but are anticipating it?
It was kind of nerve-wracking! I’ve never gone into a project knowing there was an audience already. Like there are people that have certain desires and needs, so having that affect the creative process was certainly new and weird. Ultimately it was great, because once we started to come up with the idea and tailor it to what we wanted, we started embracing things that made us happy. That’s kind of what we did with the first movie and people liked it, so hopefully it will happen again. But it’s definitely not a traditional horror movie sequel, and it’s weirder than the first movie.
In the sequel you go back to exploring Craigslist and personal ads for horror, what is it about the internet that brings out these stories from you?
For the most part I am kind of paranoid about other people, like in a healthy way. I have found myself in situations similar to the first movie, where I ended up kind of stuck with someone that I may not feel comfortable with. I have also certainly felt the same way as my character in the first movie, where rather than getting out of the situation or moving myself from it, I would sacrifice myself so that everyone feels normal. Like mainly to safe face and keep things normal, you know? Being afraid to make a situation awkward.
Obviously the first movie was taking that idea to the extreme, like how far would you go to make a situation feel comfortable? Then we don’t do that as much in the second one. We created this character who is a video artist and she answers Craigslist ads from lonely men, then goes and meets them and films her encounters with them. So then she sort of answers the question you always ask about found footage movies, why is the camera still rolling and why hasn’t the person left. She wants to be there for as long as possible to get her footage. We also didn’t want to do the same thing were the next person you meet it’s creepier than the last. Creep 2 is much more existential, in a way.
Yeah, and also the cat’s out of the bag now. We know this guy is a serial killer.
Yeah, we couldn’t do that again. The first movie was more about finding out this guy’s scary for a reason. This time we sort of set the challenge to ourselves, to make it known that he’s a serial killer right off the bat and see if we are able to backtrack from there. In the first movie my character wasn’t aware, and the idea is that he starts getting more and more uncomfortable.
This time the character is getting what she wants, but she also doesn’t believe Josef. That’s another thing, we wanted to have a female main character this time, but we also know the long and complicated history of women in horror. We wanted to do something different that is not a Scream Queen-type of thing.
What do you enjoy about working within the found footage genre?
I think that unless you absolutely love found footage movies, and unless you have an idea that only makes sense as found footage, you shouldn’t make a found footage movie. I believe it is one of the most difficult genres to work with, because you are faced with the constant reminder and challenge of justifying the camera being on. If you don’t have that, it doesn’t work, so it ends up being more work and more thinking than other genres. For us in the first movie it was an afterthought. The genre came later as a product of us thinking of making a movie with no crew but that feels right and natural.
And yet you kept the sequel as found footage. If you make a third and finish the trilogy, would it be found footage?
We are talking about it, but we are not sure yet. It’s funny because the second movie was mainly influenced by the fans’ reaction to the first. I think it will be the same case here, we’ll see how people respond and then make the decision as to how to approach the third one.
Watch the trailer here: