What’s the opposite of a jump scare? Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa has mastered it in the superb Creepy, revealing the upsetting details with such slow-build subtlety that you don’t notice your skin crawling until it’s halfway out the door.
After nearly getting killed in a hostage standoff, criminal psychologist Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) has been rebuilding his life. He’s quit the police force to teach criminology and moved to the suburbs with his wife, Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi). But the tendrils of his past continue to cling, and he idly begins investigating a family’s long-ago disappearance with one of his former detective colleagues. Meanwhile, Yasuko is trying to get to know the new neighbors, particularly Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa), an awkward recluse with a young daughter and an ailing wife.
Kurosawa teases out both threads of the story, hinting at a connection between them long before confirming any misdeeds. The performances are compelling all around, but Kagawa stands out: His Nishino, somehow as cowardly as he is sinister, recalls the oily nervousness of Peter Lorre.
Kurosawa’s framing makes even the wind seems suspect: Curtains billow and grass riffles just out of the characters’ sight, as if marking the passage of an evil spirit. But how can air be menacing? When it comes time to show us, Creepy doesn’t flinch.
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Opens October 21, Metrograph