Creep (2004) Movie Ending, Explained: The horror mystery/thriller Creep (2004) is the feature-film debut of British writer/director Christopher Smith. Run Lola Run (1998) and The Bourne series fame Franka Potente played the lead role. The German actor made her acting debut in British cinema with this film. Made on a budget of 5 million Pounds, UK Film Council and a German production company backed the project. Creep is primarily set inside London Underground, as a woman, after attending a party, waits for the last tube train. But she is pushed into a battle of survival when ‘something’ attacks people, and the labyrinth of tunnels and access passages happens to be its lair.
It’s always fascinating when people’s everyday spaces are turned into horror-flick locations. If you have a taste for the macabre, then you might have imagined many horror stories in the subterranean world of the subways. Christopher Smith proves to be a fine craftsman in his debut feature to extract enough chills out of this familiar yet creepy set-up. Nevertheless, Smith falters here and there script-wise, as even the 85-minute running time feels a little too long. Anyway, let’s get into this spoiler-infested explainer of Christopher Smith’s Creep.
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Creep (2004) Movie Plot Explained:
First Day at Work
Creep (2004) establishes its unsettling atmosphere in the frenzied, yellow-tinted visuals of the opening credits. Two things register among the chaotic images: lots of blood and a frightened, bloodied woman running through the tunnels. The film then opens inside the claustrophobic sewage tunnels as two sewage workers wearing a head torch and carrying a torch walk through the fetid space. The veteran sewage worker, Arthur, is helping his new rookie partner, George (Vas Blackwood), to get acquainted with the various types of shit flowing through the tunnels.
Arthur, who has been walking the underground for decades, says he can judge which part of the city they are in based on the stinking smell of the shit. Frustrated by Arthur’s lessons, George grumbles, “I just need to know the basics, man.” Arthur shines his torch at a blocked sewage pipe and asks George to clear it up. He says it’s clogged with tampons, condoms, and anything folks above flush through the toilet. While George is understandably disgusted by all this, he mentions something about ‘parole’ and a ‘little girl.’
Further interaction between the two men reveals that George was caught and sent here for selling weed. Arthur indifferently replies, ‘Last week, it was a pimp, now a drug dealer.’ Their chat is cut short when the duo stumbles upon a broken wall. Arthur and George see that the disturbed brick wall leads to another tunnel. Arthur goes inside to investigate, but George stays there.
Of course, Arthur witnesses something that doesn’t make sense. His head torch gear shows us a blink-and-miss-it glimpse of a bare-chested man or a human-like creature. We are not sure what he sees, but George reluctantly gets into the tunnel when he doesn’t hear from Arthur. He stumbles upon the injured Arthur, who is looking at someone beyond George. From the ominous darkness, a woman with a bloodied face and a missing eye emerge to pump up our feelings of dread.
Kate’s Partying Plans Goes Awry
The narrative then cuts to introduce the tale’s protagonist, Kate (Franka Potente). She is wearing a flashy yellow dress for the party at a modeling agency. She perhaps works as a booking agent. Kate is looking for her friend Jemma while avoiding the sleazy advances of a colleague named Guy (Jeremy Sheffield). She comes across as a sassy and very self-centered woman. Kate is looking for Jemma since she has tickets to the VIP Lounge for an event attended by George Clooney. But a colleague tells Kate that Jemma has just left, and she was put in a cab, meaning she maybe had too much to drink.
Kate immediately gets out of the party and tries hailing a cab. But when that fails, she withdraws some money and goes to the Charring Cross station (yeah, the same station we later saw in Skyfall and Thor: The Dark World). Since she has no change, Kate buys a travel card from a young homeless woman. She gets down to the platform, and the last train is still eight minutes to arrive. Kate checks her make-up, drinks from a tiny bottle kept inside her handbag, and expresses disgust at a man frantically eating his food.
There’s a feeling that Kate wholly moves around with a different circle of people and possesses degrading views of the underprivileged. Hence, she is a little more guarded in the space. She drinks more, and it’s still six minutes before the train arrives. A rat crawls through the tracks, and Kate slowly closes her eyes to rest a bit. But when she opens her eyes, the platform is deserted. The last train has come and gone.
Kate’s Attacker is Attacked
Kate goes up to the station to find everything locked, and the whole place is abandoned. Thankfully, she hears the sound of a train and rushes back to the platform to get into it just in time. An out-of-focus shot shows someone else getting into the train as Kate runs through the sliding doors. As if confirming our suspicions, the train stops near the tunnel. Kate knocks at the driver’s cabin, and it’s revealed to us that the man is bludgeoned to death. Then the light goes off, and a man shines a torch at Kate. Thinking he is the security guard, she talks to him. But Kate is freaked out as the guy stays silent and keeps pointing the torch at her.
She starts running and falls. The guy comes after her, and it happens to be Guy, the colleague. He seems to have deliberately switched off the lights and switches them back. Instead of finding a way out of the predicament, the suited stalker offers to share his drugs and looks more intimidating. Subsequently, Guy gets aggressive and tries to sexually assault Kate. But he is suddenly dragged through the open door. She hears his screams and runs to the back of the train. Just as she jumps from the train to run towards the platform, Kate sees someone or something pursuing her.
Kate once again runs to every part of the station and finds all the gates locked. The exhausted Kate sits down, only to hear something. It turns out to be the homeless girl’s pet dog (from whom she bought the travel card). The dog runs into a narrow passageway, and Kate follows it. She crawls through it and finds the girl, Mandy (Kelly Scott), and her boyfriend, Jimmy (Paul Rattray). Mandy is too high to talk, but Jimmy hears Kate’s story after asking her to share a cigarette. Jimmy says it could be some vigilante who saved her. Kate disagrees with him. The homeless man offers his sleeping bag for the night. But Kate asks him the way to the control room so that she can get out of the place.
When Jimmy says it would be hard for her to navigate the labyrinthine space, she asks his help to accompany her. She offers him 50 pounds when Jimmy says bothering the authorities would jeopardize their stay there.
Mandy Is Gone
Jimmy tries to engage in small talk as he walks Kate to the control room. Later, he talks about his troubles and why he and Mandy couldn’t find a decent place. The impatient Kate cuts him off and candidly tells him that she isn’t interested in their life story. Jimmy swears at her, and they hear someone calling Kate. It’s none other than Guy. He is crawling through the tracks and is heavily injured. It looks like some creature has mauled him. Kate pays Jimmy another 50 pounds to carry Guy to the platform.
Meanwhile, Mandy wakes up hearing some noise. She finds the small door to their abode open. Her dog runs out. Mandy follows it to see plenty of rats in the station corridor. She carries her dog, only to look at something with unimaginable fear, and she screams. Just as Jimmy places Guy in a sitting position on the platform, he sees their dog with blood spots. Jimmy returns to the place, only to find a trail of blood. He follows the trail to an abandoned platform and a tunnel. But Jimmy is apprehensive about running into the tunnel.
Kate presses the emergency call button on the platform, hoping someone from the control center will answer. A pompous guy who calls himself ‘security supervisor,’ answers Kate. She asks him to call for an ambulance since a man is wounded. The man at the control center looks at her through the security cam and says he can’t see the injured guy. He further states that she could be a homeless drug addict. He says he will call the ambulance if Kate puts Guy in view of the camera. She goes to drag Guy, who is already dead. Moreover, the security supervisor suddenly finds too many rats in his office and gets his throat slashed.
What’s the Deal with this Monstrous Underground Dweller?
Knowing that the worst has happened in the control room, too, Kate runs back to find Jimmy. She asks if they can go through the tunnel to reach the next station and find the security guard there. Meanwhile, The bloodthirsty murderer is seen dragging his victims – Guy and the security guard – to his lair, and his army of rats follow him. Kate and Jimmy start walking into the tunnel and soon hear the sounds of a train. They run towards a small access tunnel, and the train stops. While Jimmy says it’s only routine for the drivers to stop the train when someone is on the tracks, Kate assumes that it could be the killer driving the train and looking for them.
Caught in the dilemma of whether or not to go to the train, Jimmy decides to go. If it’s the killer, he can take his revenge. If it’s the driver, they can hop on the train. But as expected, the plan goes wrong. Jimmy gets killed. Kate runs and falls into the sewage tunnels running below the station. She comes across the corpse of Arthur (the old sewage worker from the opening scene). Kate eventually encounters the killer (Sean Harris), who looks like the bald-headed cave-dwelling creatures from Neil Marshall’s The Descent.
The narrative briefly unfolds from the perspective of the deformed, deranged individual as he gets into a cell and cuts a slice of flesh from a man’s corpse. The killer has locked up his injured victims in the sewage tanks. George – the parolee with a little girl – is there; so is Kate. Despite the grim circumstances, Kate laughs when she hears the name, George. “I was supposed to meet a George tonight,” she says. Since one of the sewage tanks is open, and because these tanks wouldn’t have a bottom like a cage, Kate proposes to swim to the open tank and get out.
George is no good at swimming. Therefore, Kate gets out just as the deformed killer comes to check up on his captives. Kate takes her heels and stabs the killer in one of his eyes. As the mad guy squeals, they run away. From this point on, Creep wades too much into the cliched territory. If you aren’t a horror aficionado, you might scream, “Why can’t these two people just finish off that poor creature?”
Kate and George run and run and reach the ‘right place’ that could reveal more about the killer. Or not. They get into a bleak room that reads ‘surgery site.’ It’s full of fetus specimen jars and baby cots bearing names like Craig, Susan, and Richard. Was there some sort of sinister experiment on children carried out in the place? Soon, they find Mandy, her legs strapped to an operating table and looking dead. Once again, Kate does nothing on her own and asks George to check on Mandy. But when he declares she is dead, she cries and says it’s her fault. For the first time in the narrative, Kate empathizes with someone and feels guilty about her actions.
Creep (2004) Movie Ending Explained:
Brutal Deaths and Final Showdown
Kate and George find that exits are blocked with brick walls. George finds some bricks loose in a wall and breaks it a little with force to gain access to the tunnels. The killer reaches just in time as they escape. But he doesn’t pursue them, knowing that their path goes nowhere. Hence, he turns his attention to Mandy, who is surprisingly alive. What follows is an irritating, extended sequence of brutal violence as the killer mimics the actions of a surgeon before plunging a machete-like blade deep into Mandy’s sex organ.
Perhaps, Christopher Smith is metaphorically equating the woman’s womb with the city’s, i.e., the underground. The deformed killer is the unwanted child, probably born out of a sadistic experiment; one of the many rejects of the society. But ambiguity about the monstrous killer’s roots is maintained till the end.
As anticipated, Kate and George reach a dead end. They find Mandy’s dog in a birdcage and free it. George goes berserk as he gets sick of the preying killer. And he is murdered in a vicious manner (his thick skull penetrates a nasty-looking large blade). After more hide-and-seeks and chasing, Kate learns that the killer’s name is Craig, not that the information will help Kate. But she finds a long metal chain and sticks one end into his throat and the other across the track. As the train passes, blood spurts out of Craig’s throat, and finally, he dies.
Kate walks back to the platform. Mandy’s dog follows her and sits on her lap. It’s already early morning. The early commuters arrive at the platform. Looking at Kate’s disheveled look, a suited guy places a coin near her. Creep ends with Kate crying and silently staring at us.
Creep (2004) Themes & Narrative Analysis:
While Creep has a straightforward horror plot set in the London Underground, it has a few interesting themes and storytelling choices, including the class commentary that’s prevalent throughout the narrative. Kate is portrayed as an unlikeable bourgeois woman with an apparent disgust for poor people experiencing homelessness. Earlier, after leaving the party and while withdrawing money from a machine, a homeless guy asks her for a change. She condescendingly asks him to sit in front of a phone box instead of a notes-dispensing device if he needs change.
Kate repeatedly uses people for her benefit and is of the opinion that she can buy anything with money. Kate is simply used to depending on people, so she keeps asking Jimmy and George to do things for her. She surprisingly shows some concern for Guy, who tried to rape her and belongs to her same social class. But we can witness her aversion when Jimmy offers her the lit cigarette. The irony is fascinating. Kate works in a modeling agency and is used to judging people by their looks. Creep, in a way, is her journey of learning to empathize with people who aren’t as privileged as her. The final scene potently drives home this point.
Nevertheless, Creep’s horror elements and the staging feel too derivative in the latter half. The shift from Kate’s perspective to Craig’s takes us away from the protagonist’s battle for survival. The ensuing sadistic violence obliterates the tension in the narrative. Whatever subtext Christopher Smith attempted through creepy Craig isn’t established convincingly, further dampening the narrative. At the same time, two filmmaking departments elevate the inherent horror quotient in the tale: one is the production design by John Frankish, and the other is special make-up effects (for the titular character) by Mike Stinger and Mike Bates.
Overall, Creep (2004) is a decent horror flick and directorial debut. Christopher Smith went on to make even better horror films like Severance (2006), Triangle (2009), and Black Death (2010). But if you crave such excursion into the subterranean spaces, and for one that’s better than Creep, please watch the indie documentary Dark Days (2000) and the Hungarian mystery/thriller Kontroll (2003).