Arrow Video FrightFest 2022: The Creeping Is an Excellent Haunted House Movie

I’m a huge fan of haunted house movies. Some of my favorite horror films of all time involve a family being oppressed by an evil spirit in their own home, so when I got the chance to review The Creeping, I jumped on it. It seemed like exactly my kind of movie, and after getting the chance to watch it, I’m happy to say I was not disappointed.

The Creeping was directed by Jamie Hooper, and it stars Sophie Thompson, Riann Steele, Peter MacQueen, Jonathan Nyati, and Jane Lowe. It’s about a young woman named Anna who goes back to her childhood home to care for her grandmother Lucy, an old woman who’s suffering from dementia, and soon after she arrives, she begins to experience strange supernatural phenomena. Eventually, she learns that the haunting is linked to a dark secret from her past, and her grandmother’s dwindling memories may hold the key to stopping it.

The Creeping begins with a young Anna’s father putting her to bed and telling her a story, and I was hooked right away. The acting in this scene is great, and you can tell that the man really loves her. Everything from the look on his face to the way he speaks makes it loud and clear, and it’s awesome. It’s no secret that our culture is experiencing a crisis of authentic masculinity, so I really appreciated seeing this guy act like a real man and show genuine love to his daughter.

Then, when he leaves Anna’s room, the horror almost immediately kicks into gear, and it’s just as good. It’s genuinely creepy, and since we have no idea why it’s happening, it does a great job of tapping into our natural fear of the unknown. It’s an awesome opening scare, so when I saw it, I was really excited to see what the rest of the film had in store.

A shadowy woman

After that, we skip ahead several years, and we see Anna as an adult. Her father has recently passed away, and she’s just moved in with her grandmother. From here, The Creeping showcases the same strengths that made the opening scene so great, and they remain pretty steady throughout the entire movie.

To begin, the main characters are all excellent, so let’s go through them one by one, starting with Lucy. My grandmother died from Alzheimer’s disease, so I’m very familiar with dementia, and The Creeping totally gets it right. Jane Lowe, the actress who plays Lucy, does a phenomenal job of showing what this terrible disease does to people. She goes back and forth between periods of lucidity and confusion, sometimes even in the same scene, and she absolutely nails both states. She behaves and talks exactly like a real dementia patient would, so I totally bought into her character.

Similarly, the actress who plays Anna, Riann Steele, does an excellent job portraying a new caretaker who doesn’t have much experience with the disease. Anna tries her best to love her grandmother and take care of her, and much like her father when she was younger, you can just feel the love emanating from her when she interacts with Lucy. However, caring for a dementia patient does take its toll on her, so there are also times when she lets the stress get to her a tiny bit, and Steele absolutely nails those moments too. She’s just great all around, so I really loved seeing her character every time she was on screen.

Last but not least, we have Karen, a woman who helps with the housekeeping duties, and while she’s not quite as central to the story as Anna and Lucy are, she’s just as good. In particular, she’s just a really great person, and once again, her love and concern for Lucy and Anna are almost tangible. In an era where so many horror movies try to inhabit a moral gray area with characters who aren’t really good or bad, it’s refreshing to see a person like this. Sure, I understand the value of what those other films are trying to do, but balance is key. We need moral gray areas as well as models of genuine goodness, and Karen is a great example of the latter.

A woman muffling a scream

In addition to awesome characters, The Creeping also has some really effective horror. For the most part, it’s pretty typical haunted house stuff, so if you’re looking for novelty, this is not the film for you. We’ve seen these kinds of scares a million times before in movies like The Changeling, Oculus, and The Conjuring, and there’s even one I saw coming a mile away.

But you know what? It didn’t bother me in the slightest. Much like The Conjuring, these tried-and-true scares are executed so well that the lack of originality isn’t a problem. In fact, I’d even say this is hands down the scariest film I’ve seen so far at FrightFest this year, and while I don’t know if it’ll keep that top spot, I suspect it will.

All that being said, I do have to acknowledge that The Creeping isn’t a perfect film. There are a few issues I could nitpick here and there, but for me, the one real problem with the movie is the CGI. This is a very low-budget film, so when it uses CGI, it doesn’t look good. Most notably, the end shows you the entity that’s haunting Lucy’s house, and I really wish the filmmakers had either used practical effects or just not shown it at all. The scene isn’t nearly as effective as it would’ve been without the CGI, and that’s a real shame given how good this movie is.

But when all is said and done, that’s a pretty minor flaw. On the whole, The Creeping is an excellent and effective haunted house film that grounds its story with amazing characters. Like I said before, this is definitely the scariest movie I’ve seen so far at FrightFest, and I’d also say it’s the best. I can’t wait for more people to see it, so if you get the chance to check it out, I highly recommend that you take it.

The Creeping is playing at Arrow Video FrightFest on August 27.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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