Steven Spielberg famously explained that his decision to reveal as little of the shark as he possibly could, until one was two-thirds into Jaws, helped escalate the audience’s tension. After all, what really scares you is the stuff you can’t see. Director Vikram Bhatt, however, is clearly no proponent of the “less is more” principle when it comes to monster movies. He doesn’t make us wait too long before giving us the Full Monty in Creature.
Ahana (Bipasha Basu) has invested her every penny in setting up a cozy boutique hotel in the middle of a forest in Himachal. Not long after the first set of guests have checked in that a mysterious beast shows up and sets off a killing spree.
The creature in question, a large, scaly lizard with a human-like head and protrusions on its face that resemble a handlebar moustache, is a “brahmrakshas” we’re informed by a grizzled Mukul Dev, who plays a permanently scowling zoologist. It’s hard to keep a straight face while the ever-so-sullen doc links this mythical beast’s origin to an unshakeable curse and a mowed-down peepal tree. From luring it into an empty bus to chasing after it in a cave, things get progressively silly as Ahana and her pretty-boy love interest (Pakistani actor Imran Abbas), resort to all manner of incredulous plotting to take down the monster, even after it’s become painfully clear that fire is its Kryptonite.
Bhatt’s decision to reveal the creature early on, and to give it virtually as much screen-time as Bipasha gets, robs the film of any surprise or intrigue that it might have otherwise benefitted from. The opening attack scene, on a supplies guy whose truck breaks down in the forest, is nicely creepy because much is left to the imagination. But later scenes – like one in which the beast chases after a speeding jeep in broad daylight – are laughable.
To give credit where it’s due, the VFX work isn’t too bad, and while comparing it to Godzilla might be a stretch, it must be said that some thought has clearly gone into the monster’s design and movement. What doesn’t work is the consistently crummy writing.
Bhatt trades in all the usual stereotypes including mumbo jumbo-spouting villagers, lazy cops who want nothing to do with this mess, and a wise old man dispensing words of wisdom. There are also cutthroat bankers who threaten to seize Ahana’s property when she defaults on a loan. “Bloody vultures,” her boyfriend mutters when they leave the room. “They are vultures, but I’m not a dead body yet,” she replies.
From the unintentionally comical dialogues to the absence of any logic in the script, Creature fails spectacularly in getting the basics right. The film suffers from an overall cheapo aesthetic, as if stuck in a time warp. Educated men bandy on about a Brahma Mandir in Pushkar and about bullets that need to be bathed in holy water on the occasion of Karthik Poornima…you’ll be groaning in pain.
The acting across the board is so wooden you’re counting down for the characters to be killed off one by one. Of the two leads, Imran Abbas has precisely one expression, and Bipasha Basu – her hair perfectly styled, her nails nicely manicured even while she’s struggling with the beast – mostly flares her nostrils and tries to look brave.
Alas the film doesn’t spook you, or deliver so much as a few cheap thrills despite the pop-out 3D effects. This is standard B-movie material that plods on for a full 2 hours and 15 minutes. Still, I’m going with a generous 2 out of five for Creature. It’s an ambitious attempt, weighed down by pedestrian storytelling.