A few years ago, Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice came together to create one of the best found footage films of the modern era of horror, Creep. A surprise hit that connected with horror fans in a big way, Duplass is reprising his disconcerting character (now known as “Aaron”) in Creep 2, but this time, he finds that his new “project,” an online filmmaker named Sara (Desiree Akhavan), doesn’t scare nearly as easy as he was hoping, especially after she agrees to continue working with him after he confesses that he is indeed a serial killer. Realizing that he may have finally met his match, “Aaron’s” new companion is about to push him and his fragile psyche further than ever before.
Daily Dead recently spoke with Duplass, who discussed how the collaborative process between him and Brice evolved between the first Creep and Creep 2, how a pool game led to Akhavan being cast as his foil in the sequel, and where his character may be headed in the recently discussed third chapter in the Creep franchise.
Congratulations, Mark. Creep was one of those movies that came out of nowhere at me a few years ago, and when the sequel was revealed, I wondered, “What could they possibly do with this concept that we didn't see in the first movie?" And then you guys continuously shocked me with this sequel, which was awesome. I would love to hear about what was different with the process this time with Patrick, versus how it was collaborating together on this concept the first time around.
Mark Duplass: Well, there was a lot more flailing around the first time around for sure. It took us a lot longer to find the tone and find the specific lane that we felt was working, and this time, we had our lane. And honestly, the approach this time was to make sure we maintained that sense of childlike play, and the arts and craft-style of filmmaking that came to define the first one. We had a larger budget. We could have had a bigger crew, but we specifically decided to keep it very small, and still shoot from an outline, and improvise and try to find the fun in those moments right on set as it happened.
So that was a process that we tried to protect. Then, the second thing we really focused on was the fun of Creep 1 was trying to figure out if this person was dangerous or not, and watching him play this cat and mouse game. With the sequel, we didn't want to repeat that, so we figured that because we’re starting out knowing that he is a serial killer, it would be fun to tell the story of what does the serial killer do once he's actually met his match? So it's not cat versus mouse, it's cat versus cat.
You mentioned having this small crew, and I was wondering if you feel that the intimacy you guys establish in these films—particularly with how they are shot and everything—do you feel like that’s what makes these movies connect with audiences so well?
Mark Duplass: I don’t really know how audiences perceive these stories, but maybe it feels like audiences have a subconscious sense that anything can happen right now, and the reason they feel that way is because we don't really know what's going to happen until we shoot it. And it often happens very offhanded, it happens in a very—for lack of a better word—un-curated way, and that haphazardness and the spontaneity of it all gives you a sense of, “I don't feel a director's hand meticulously crafting this thing. This feels like chaos.”
Because it is chaos when we make these movies. Sometimes we jump into a scene, and the scene just happens magically, and we're done in seven minutes. And then, sometimes we shoot it five times, and it's terrible. Then we sit around for three hours depressed, trying to figure out how to rewrite the scene, what to do to make it work, and then we get it, and as soon as we get it, we shoot it right there. It’s that energy that goes right into the scene.
You mentioned the fact that your character meets his match, and I loved Desiree in this. It’s such an interesting back and forth watching the two of you guys size each other up in various scenes, and she’s just as compelling as you are. How was it working with her, and against her, too?
Mark Duplass: Aw, that's awesome. Thank you for saying that, and I think she really is great. You know, we reached out to Desiree because I'd spent a little bit of time with her socially. She's a friend of a friend, and oddly enough, came to one of our epic cool parties, and we ended up playing this game of shark in the pool together before we really even knew each other. And like, we were really good together in the game, and I just remembered that, even though it was like three years ago or something.
So we started talking about, "Well, shit, who's going go head to head with this crazy mother--ker in the sequel?" That’s when we started to think about Des, who has an air of confidence about her. She genuinely loves peculiar and strange people, so I knew she wouldn't have to fake that. She has a size that can match up with mine, so I'm pretty sure she could beat me up. So it was all of those things that just started to get us fascinated by what that energy could be.
And when we got on set, I mean, I sound like a broken record, but a lot of it is about surprising each other, and not telling each other exactly what we're going to do. So I did a lot of things to her, and she did a lot of things to me in this movie that neither of us were prepared for, and those games of one-upmanship helped to feed into that a little bit.
I know it's been mentioned that you guys have a trilogy in mind for this series. Do you think we’re going to get to the root of who your character really is? Because what I think is so fascinating about him is that there are so many layers to him now for audiences, so it's kind of hard to figure out what the truth to him is, but I think that's why you can’t stop watching him.
Mark Duplass: There are some core emotional things that we know about this person. We know that he's able to lie really, really well, and the reason is because he believes everything he's saying. He never really thinks he's lying. And he has a core emotional truth, and in that, we do imagine that there are many, many more movies to come with this person.
And something happened to us when we finally got the right ending for Creep 1, where you see all those tapes of all his victims. We all had the feeling like, "I want to see each and every one of those tapes. I want to see all these people that he's become and played," because at the core of this man is someone who desperately wants to connect. He just happens to do it in a very unique way.
I agree, and I also think there's something very sad about his situation, too, because he’s this guy who is only comfortable when he's becoming other people.
Mark Duplass: Yeah, definitely, and that’s something we’ve been thinking about, all the different versions of this character. We think a lot about what that prequel would look like, in terms of how does one become this type of person? We don't have all of the answers yet, but that's really the part of the fun of these movies, is that we discover those answers while we're filming. And that's why we like doing these movies this way.
In case you missed it, check here to read our previous coverage of Creep 2.