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Review: CREPITUS (2018)

Crepitus is one of those films you seem to have been hearing about forever. Or at least so long that you wonder if it’s ever coming out. Or if there’s a very good reason why it hasn’t. I’ve forgotten when I first heard about this film, it’s been so long, but its Facebook page has been up since 2014. So is it worth the wait and the hype, or just another killer clown film that missed its cue?

Elizabeth (Caitlin Williams) lives with her little sister Sam (Chalet Lizette Brannan, Strange Nature) and their abusive, drunken mother Brandi (Eve Mauro, Age Of The Living Dead, Black Noise). All three of them have an “X” carved in their forehead. Their father has long since vanished, one would suspect, driven off by Brandi.

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They live in what was their grandfather’s house. As if their family issues weren’t bad enough, the girls are beginning to see and hear strange things. Most disturbing is an apparition of a little girl in the bathtub. At least until Crepitus (Bill Moseley, Shed Of The Dead, Boar) shows up.

The story follows a somewhat non-linear path, moving back and forth from current happenings to memories, flashbacks and, most disturbingly, some old super 8 film reels. Director Haynze Whitmore and co-writers Eddie and Sarah Renner use these to reveal hints of the family’s dark secrets. Then the final act heads down an even darker rabbit hole.

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That said, some of the most disturbing footage in Crepitus has nothing to do with the title character. It’s the scenes of Brandi verbally and physically abusing the girls. This isn’t gratuitous, and as the film goes on we learn why she’s like this. And about the circle of abuse as well. Thankfully this isn’t done in a preachy manner, it’s not even discussed. But it’s all there in the story.

Moseley is skin-crawlingly creepy in the title role, as long as he keeps his mouth shut. Crepitus talks in rhymes and that tended to get on my nerves, even when he delivers couplets like “From your fertile womb, daughters two I will pluck. One I’ll eat, the other I’ll fuck”. And if you think that sounds grim, wait until you hear it in context.

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My other complaint is a few scenes feel like they’re shot in a strange/artsy manner just to be strange. If you’ve read my reviews of The Spirit Gallery or Saint Bernard then you know surrealism and art films don’t bother me when done right. But in Crepitus it often feels forced into the occasional scene just for effect.

Despite those misgivings, Crepitus did get under my skin and effectively creep me out. The fact I was watching it by myself at 3 AM may have been a factor, but it still did what it set out to do.

Crepitus is available on streaming platforms from Indican Pictures. A DVD release is planned for next month. Check the film’s website and Facebook page for details.

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