The Berlin Diaries II: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Creepy’

Tobias Burms

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 'Creepy'

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Creepy’

There is something that feels wholly out of place in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kurîpî, a film whose bastardized American title (Creepy) and opening sequences evoke the aura of generic, Y2K-psycho flicks that once meant a steady income for Ashley Judd. In these, there are also feeble suggestions of a run-of-the-mill potboiler and a commendation for cultured audiences for having endured a ‘foreign’ film. The narrative that concernsarenegade cop undergoing devastating trauma (insert: ‘one year later’ flashcard) is handled with B-film purism; the setpieces too are all constructed to evoke genre (exhibits: a perfunctory nod to Psycho (1960), a pan through the window that leads us to – of all places – a static, staged interrogation room). And then, a reversal! Kurosawa arrives with a sledgehammer, smashing the inert harmony to pieces: the elegant flow of scenes is awkwardly interrupted by the image of a giant-dog being dragged on leash(much like the clumsy oversized suitcase in Kurosawa’sThe Seventh Code);the horror of a bloody corpse is tempered by the incessant, hysterical laughter of a child; the whirr of a cashew-blender causesan emotional climax to collapse into over-the-top melodrama.

Kurosawa mocks the various serial killer tropes to the extent of hyperbole:a typical shot of the reckless snoop-cop entering the lion’s den alone is repeated thrice for effect, clues are spoon-fed to the viewer (“that’s funny, my house looks exactly like the one from the crime scene”) and absurd accusations are littered through the number (a character is accused – from no logical inference – of selling guns to the Yakuza).

But how does Kurosawa locatesuchtransgression in the (as always, seemingly) perfect, suburban, domestic existence shared by forensic inspector-turned-criminology professor Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and wife Yasuko (Yûko Takeuchi)?The question lingers: could Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa), their googly-eyed neighbor, actually be a creeper? He’s definitely a charmer (like Norman Bates was a charmer) and there is also, perhaps, a secret: the mere mention of ‘a depressed wife’ floods his introvert-daughter Nogami (Masahiro Higashide)’s eyes with definite terror. Still, Yasukoinsists on a sense of civility: she keeps showing up at Nishino’s eerie frontgate with artisanal chocolates and leftover stew.Despite her claims of a deficient social skill, Yasuko finds herself strangely attracted to the oddball nugget; his constant buffoonery, aggressive flirting cause visible turmoil in Yasuko’s serene universe,the sweatpants and worn-out moccasins an obvious departure from her husband’s spotless white shirts. A sly manipulator, Nishino deliberately transmits mixed messages to confuse the bored housewife – a classic push-pull seduction scheme that can be described as one part pickup artist, another part Charles Manson (and the two are not mutually exclusive). Takakura, on the other hand, performs his machismo: he resorts to Mike Hammer-style manhandling when trying to be persuasive and backs down on moments when a little roughness is in order, deeming him an unlikely candidate to solve a cold case– or rescue a damsel in distress. The death of the private-eye prototype seems an inevitable consequence, while Nishino shamelessly stuffs his face with hard-boiled eggs.