Creepers (1985) Review: A Dreamy Disappointment

“It Will Make Your Skin Crawl.”

Synopsis: A young girl, with an amazing ability to communicate with insects, is transferred to an exclusive Swiss boarding school, where her unusual capability might help solve a string of murders.
Also known as “Phenomena”

Creepers (1985) Review Poster
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Calamity Brains:

Dario Argento‘s dreamy foray into the “strange girl with powers” subgenre is a mess. Despite a number of interesting story elements, the plot is mostly incoherent. Creepers never takes advantage of its more interesting plot points, and even Argento’s trademark cinematographic touch can’t make up for the poor writing.

Jennifer Connelly stars as Jennifer Corvino, a spoiled teen sent away to a private boarding school. There, against the backdrop of several grisly murders, she slowly learns that she has power over insects. This power is by far the most interesting part of the movie, but unfortunately it plays very little role in the piece as a whole. The kindly entomologist she befriends (Donald Pleasence) suggests that she use her powers to try and help the police track down the murderer – which, again, would be a fantastic story – but Jennifer’s sleuthing doesn’t actually uncover anything useful. She also mostly just wants to leave the area, rather than help. While completely reasonable, her lack of interest means that even with her powers, she’s essentially just an unwitting victim waiting to be caught by the killer, and has no control over her own destiny.

When Jennifer finally does come face-to-face with the murderer, it’s not due to any effort of her own. Her powers aren’t actually relevant in the end game of the movie, and even the killer taunts her with this. (Question: if the filmmakers realized it was weird for Jennifer to not receive help from her insect friends, why didn’t they do something about it?) In the end, Jennifer is rescued thanks to deus ex machina, leaving the audience mostly wondering why they just watched a movie about her.

As much as I generally enjoy Argento’s style, it’s not enough to rescue Creepers from the confusion of the plot. There are too many elements that make no sense or are unexplained. Most of the way through the movie, I was still unsure where the plot was going. (At the time, I thought that was a good sign – that the movie would have a clever ending. Poor, naive Calamity.) There’s no explanation for the killings, the entire subplot with Jennifer’s powers is irrelevant, and there’s a chimpanzee for… no real reason. The filmmakers would have been better served forgoing the chimp and hiring a few editors, instead.

If you’re into Dario Argento and don’t mind a little nonsensical with your horror plots, you might enjoy Creepers more than I did. For the rest of you, there are better examples of his work.

Calamity Brains’ Rating: C-
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Did You Know 1: Creepers (1985)Did You Know 2: Creepers (1985)Did You Know 3: Creepers (1985)

Calamity Brains

The Codex Mortis Horror Hosts (Ludwig von Stroodle and Calamity Brains) are married and live in West Virginia. Pretty much everyone who sees their cabin agrees that it would be an ideal setting for a horror movie. Their pets include a black widow spider, a smart dog, and a stupid dog. When they aren’t watching horror movies, they can be found at whiskey festivals, Renaissance fairs, and board game nights.

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