An eccentric Entomologist tells three dark tales about the creeping crawling insects that burrowing through the walls of homes, eating through our intestines, and for some of us, driving us slowly insane.
Creeping Crawling dubs itself as an entomology anthology. Each of its three tales of woe centering around a world of insects with some additional, morally centered narrative about how our wants and desires can eventually destroy us. Cheery.
In tale one, a part time model ingests tapeworms in the hopes of slimming down to the perfect size zero. In the second, a swarm of fleas is the spark of inspiration a manipulative nurse needs when she tries to cure a comatose young man she has fallen for. Whilst the third tale sees a lonely man seeking true love, who also enjoys doing rather hideous, sexual things to worms in jars. Each of the three tales is introduced by an eccentric professor helping two students with their term paper.
Anthology movies, portmanteaus (call them what you will) but there are a lot of joyful things that can be said about them. Being a series of short films hanging off a framing device, you get so much more bang for your buck. And hey, if you don’t like one story, don’t worry because Asylum has a scene where Sylvia Sims’ disembodied head attacks someone. Maybe that might be more to your liking, Sir or Madam.
Unfortunately, with Creeping Crawling you’ll be waiting a long time for something to enjoy. It is a meandering movie where I felt every one of its 113 minutes. The first tale runs away with itself for so long, I was pleading for a conclusion that would offset the tedium, and dubious displays of acting. What I got was a rushed, twist ending that made no sense when stacked up against the rest of the story. The second tale fared better with a fairly entertaining storyline. Again though, its modicum of a narrative was stretched so thin it was in danger of snapping and flicking someone in the eye. Which, thinking about it, would have probably been more fun.
The adage ‘third time lucky’ doesn’t apply in Creeping Crawling as we enter the film’s final story. As previously hinted at, it’s a grueling and unfunny sex romp about a man who finds insects sexually arousing ever since he discovered a millipede crawling across his dirty magazine when he was pleasuring himself as a child. You read that sentence correctly. And the less said about the narrating professor and hiz krazee accent da betta, ya?
I think part of the problem with Creeping Crawling is that it’s trying to do too much with very little. There’s nothing wrong per se with cinematically punching above your weight. And of course, low budget isn’t synonymous with bad movies. See Peter Jacksons’ back catalogue before he started playing around with hobbits, or Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre, or The Blair Witch Project, or V/H/S. There’s so many examples, new and old. All of them making up for a lack of finance with an abundance of imagination and working within their limits. Here, however, it’s evident that Creeping Crawling is running on the fumes of a low budget.
The sound is tinny, the night scenes barely watchable, the camerawork askew, and storefronts get such prominent positioning in some scenes that I suspect that an attempt at product placement was being made. Writers and Directors Jon and Tracy Cring may have been better off investing their time into fleshing out one of the shorts. For example, the second tale had an air of Patrick, particularly Mark Hartley’s version, which would have been perfect for building on, rather than being watered down as it was by tepid attempts at titillation and an overkill of smoke machines.
What could have been a film that made our skin crawl and have us running for the nearest hot shower straight afterwards, is instead made of such lightweight material it can be swatted away as easily as one of its antagonists.