Last time, in my review of The Moleman of Belmont Avenue, I discussed the merits of watching interestingly titled movies on Netflix. Sometimes, you are surprised by a movie that you otherwise wouldn’t have watched. You might find something that knows how to craft a legitimately creepy atmosphere, or design ACTUAL jokes. You might find yourself admiring what a creative filmmaker can do with a meager budget, and look forward to his next project. Or, you might watch Creep Van, and swear off the whole process all together.
So, in the interest of full disclosure, I actually watched this on Netflix a few months ago. I remembered I didn’t like it, but I didn’t remember WHY I didn’t like it. I was also under the impression it was about a sentient van that hunted and killed annoying teenagers, which while turning out to be completely and hilariously incorrect, would have been a WAAAAAAAAY better movie. However, upon more recent viewings, I think I managed to pin down exactly what it was about this movie that rubbed me the wrong way. Just in case any of you sickos wants to watch this shit piece, I’m going to warn you that there will be spoilers abound in this review.
First thing’s first. This movie is basically The Collector if The Collector had a sloppier script, and took place in a van. Yep. You should be able to see the problem here, in that only so many people can fit in a van, so to keep your body count counting, you need to come up with some pretty ridiculous excuses for people to be in or around this van. The hitchhiker? Ok, that one makes sense. The people trying to steal the ratty, rusted old van? Hmmmm… maybe a bit of a stretch, but this movie DOES take place in Detroit, so I guess that is still possible. The girl walking past the van on a beach, and overhearing a cool song playing from it, and decided to check it out? Ok… that’s it. Aside from the fact that this is stupid and unrealistic, it also makes me picture the killer scouring the Top 40 looking for songs that teenagers would think were cool enough to go investigate where they were coming from. Van Creep’s day planner must alternate between rigging needlesly elaborate van traps and downloading Katy Perry singles on iTunes.
The main tactic used by Van Creep to catch his little idiots is to put a “For Sale” sign in the window of the van, and then murder them when they go on a test drive. Again, I question the level of interest in literally the shittiest van in existence, but again… Detroit, so OK.
Our main character Campbell, played by Brian Kolodziej, sees the “For Sale” sign, and is interested. He has his reasons for being reduced to seeking out a turd on wheels. He is struggling after his ex completely fucked his life in the dick. He was left with no money, so returned home, unable to afford a car, which makes it hard for him to hold down a job. He finds himself working at a car wash owned by a Mr. Kaufman. Kaufman? Troma reference I guess. Cute… Ok, upon googling some shit, I learned that the director, Scott W. Mckinlay, and one of the writers, Adam Jahnke, both worked on Troma releases earlier in their careers. Ok, so yeah… They are Troma alumni, and Mr. Kaufman IS a reference to Troma boss, Lloyd Kaufman. But wait… That means… NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Ok, so this Campbell idiot works at the car wash, and he starts a flirtation with Amy, one of his co-workers, who I guess would be sort of good looking for a real person, but is kind of plain to be the romantic interest in a movie? I don’t know. I guess she’s ok. So, with this little wrinkle added, Campbell decides to buy the van, because having a shitty car is better than riding the bus. He falls asleep on this bus… A Detroit city bus. This is probably the scariest thing in the movie if you stop and think about it. Campbell starts having bizarre suxual fantasies about driving Amy around in the Creep Van. Dude… Seriously. It’s a fantasy. Shoot higher. This is really really sad.
I just realized that the main character’s full name is Campbell Jackson. Probably named after Bruce Campbell and Peter Jackson. Does that mean we get cameos from them, too? Well, no. Obviously no. I mean, Peter Jackson is an Oscar winner, and Bruce Campbell is… well, he’s fucking Bruce Campbell. He is on a basic cable action series. BASIC CABLE!
With newfound ambition, Campbell calls the number he had copied from the “For Sale” sign, but as luck would have it, Van Creep was busy murdering a walking set of tits with a razor edged seatbelt. Boobsy McHooterboobs picks up Van Creep’s phone, and screams for help while Campbell’s reaction is something like, “welp… that is pretty weird, I guess.” I mean, that’s how most people would react when they hear someone obviously in trouble, screaming for help into a phone, right? To his credit, Campbell does think this is sufficiently weird enough to lose interest in buying the van, and calls Van Creep back to let him know that he’s out due to the whole creepy screaming girl thing. Van Creep takes this about as well as you’d expect, and leaves DOZENS of threatening messages on his cell phone, which again, Campbell’s reaction is, “That is totally weird, you guys.”
Campbell returns home where his roommate (who is a luchador, or something) has his horrible girlfriend over, who while being an unruly bitch, also walks around topless. So it’s a wash, i guess. Anyway, Amy comes over and her and Campbell flirt a bit, kiss once, and Campbell totally pins her down and rips her shirt open. She tells him to cool his shit, but like in a friendly way, and not in a “hey, get the fuck off of me, sex offender!” way. In my experience with girls, which is basically a series of embarrassing failures, I’ve learned that generally they like to wait a bit longer than 5 minutes into the first date to get all sexed up. Now I can see why Campbell was interested in buying a rusty old windowless van.
Somewhere in here, a customer named Swami Ted lost a duffel bag full of pot at the car wash, and was rightfully upset about it. Swami Ted is an odd combination of yoga hippie and violent drug lord. He’s needlessly wacky, and pretty pointless to the movie, aside from the bag of pot sort of acting like an act 2 macguffin. So, Ted thinks Campbell stole his pot, and tells him to meet him in the alley behind the car wash. Since Campbell is an idiot, he accepts, and Ted immediately pulls a gun on him. Then, from out of nowhere, Van Creep comes bolting down the alley, almost running down both Campbell and Swami Ted, but ironically, saving Campbell’s life, as he throws Ted out of the way, which causes Ted to feel indebted to him.
I’m gonna fast forward here, because stuff happens, and it’s important to know what happens, but nothing is interesting to talk about.
-Van Creep calls Campbell’s house and threatens his roommate. Campbell never gave him his home phone number, so this should set off way more red flags than it does.
-Campbell and Amy go out on a date to the movies, and then back to her place to screw. While they are off doing that, Luchador roommate and his awful topless girlfriend are killed mid-fuck by Van Creep driving through their fucking living room.
-The cops arrive, and Campbell is identified as a suspect in the murders, but at no point mentions that he was out all night, and has Amy to back this up.
-Everyone at the car wash is killed. Amy is kidnapped. Campbell is called, and given an address where he can come if he ever wants to see Amy again.
So, let’s recap. Campbell heard a woman screaming on the phone, and didn’t call the cops. OK, I can suspend my disbelief on that, I guess. It could have been a prank, at best, and at worst, he was removed enough from it where he might not feel the need to get personally involved. Then, he gets threatening messages on the phone. I guess he doesn’t feel personally in danger at this point, so ok. He’s dumb, and it’s a movie. Fine. Then, someone who shouldn’t have your number calls your house and makes threats, and runs you off the road in his van. This is the point I can no longer suspend my disbelief. No reasonable person would let this shit pass without calling the cops. Then, when his roommate is killed, not only does he not tell the cops about his totally legit alibi, but also doesn’t tell them about the person who is actively harassing him, and tried to kill him. Then, as the cherry on top of this stupid sundae, when the creep calls him about Amy’s whereabouts, giving him an address in addition to the phone number and probably license plate number of the van, who does Campbell call with this information? Fucking Swami Ted.
Ted and Campbell leave to save Amy, and stop the Van Creep, and within 30 seconds of them arriving, Swami Ted is murdered, and Campbell accidentally shoves a tire iron through Amy’s head. Yeah. That’s right. Campbell kills amy by impaling her in the skull because he thought she was Van Creep and charged in to a dark room without properly assessing the situation. To his credit, he does manage to kill Van Creep by using his own van’s traps against him. But in a shockingly stupid twist ending, Campbell finds the title to the van, and sees that ownership had been transferred to him. The cops arrive, and pin all the murders on Campbell, and we see him sitting in prison as we fade to the closing credits.
This movie is really dumb. It tries to be dumb, too. It’s clearly an attempt to be a horror-comedy, but instead of well made jokes with satisfying payoffs, they resort to random wackiness, which is the 2nd lowest form of humor after “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!” jokes. It it really that bad, though? I mean, it’s actually pretty well shot and well acted. The major problem I have with it is obviously with the script. It just asks the audience to suspend their disbelief to a degree that is simply unrealistic. Also, who wants to see a story about a loser with a crap job, no car, who is awkward around girls… who has a terrible roommate… who recently returned to the city of his birth when a woman ruined the life he was trying to make for himself… OH SHIT! THAT’S IT!!!! THIS MOVIE IS FUCKING ABOUT ME!
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Seriously, this movie has uncomfortable parallels to my life. It’s like seeing my reflection in the waters of a dirty toilet. I need to change things, because my life is basically the same as probably the dumbest character ever commited to film. I need to look inward, you know? I need to look inward, and ask myself tough questions, and make changes based on the hard and true answers I find. I need to change, because if I don’t, I’ll end up stalked and framed for murder by some random bearded dude in a shitty van. Ah, fuck it. That sounds hard. I’ll just befriend a hippy drug dealer instead.
– written by @johnnyzontal