Japanese art-horror master Kiyoshi Kurosawa makes his long-awaited return to the genre with the aptly named "Creepy," a slow-burning mystery that gets darker by the minute before reaching a lurid, queasy finale.
Hidetoshi Nishijima stars as Koichi Takakura, an expert on serial killer psychology who leaves the police force and starts over as a professor in a placid suburb. As he and his wife Yasuko (Yûko Takeuchi) get to know the locals, they suspect a standoffish neighbor (Teruyuki Kagawa) may be hiding something related to one of Takakura's unsolved cases.
Based on a Yutaka Maekawa novel, "Creepy" spends well over an hour on the hero playing detective, allowing his natural curiosity to lead him into some dangerous places. Then he makes a grim discovery, which begins to peel back the seemingly civil veneer of his new home.
As with Kurosawa's brilliant "Cure," "Pulse" and "Seance," "Creepy" uses silence as a tool of terror, following its characters through long, tense scenes where everything's a little too quiet, and where each creak sounds like a scream. The director has always excelled at making the ordinary seem unsettling.
But he also makes good use of a lush, Bernard Herrmann-esque Yuri Habuka score, and manages the conventional "looking for clues" elements of the story so well that viewers may feel like this is just a regular high-class crime picture … right up to the moment when the torture basement and vacuum-sealed body-bags make their first appearance.
In Japanese with English subtitles.
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Playing: Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills