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Hollywood in Pine Hills

by Ann Morrow on October 25, 2012


“It gets under your skin.” That’s the tag line for Creeping Crawling, a regionally made horror film about insects interacting with humans (“Buggy On a Budget,” July 12). As the tag implies, this three-part anthology plays on the disturbing psychology of that interaction “in the style of classic psychological horror films, like Don’t Look Now,” according to director Jon Russell Cring.

“It’s not that terrifying,” he admits. “That wasn’t what I was going for. No bumps in the night. I was going for atmosphere and an enveloping story, but there are a few things, some images, that will have people squirming or screaming or totally freaked out. It’s extremely original.” The film premieres tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 26) at the Madison Theater (1036 Madison Ave.) in Albany.

Anna Shields in Creeping Crawling

Cring and his co-writers—his wife, cinematographer Tracy Nichole Cring, and Joshua Owens—must be on to something because last month, the script for “RID” (part one of the anthology) won for best feature screenplay at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival.

“I was very happy to win,” says Cring, “because for me, writing is the most important aspect of filmmaking. In horror movies the characters and the script are not that important usually. But the films I wanted to emulate are strong character-driven movies with great scripts. I wanted to make a really good scary movie that upends all the horror tropes, to have it be about people’s minds,” he continues. “There’s so much reality in it, and it goes to such unexpected places. It was gratifying to have that recognized.”

“Unexpected” is an understatement. “RID” is a bizarre erotic thriller about a supposed nurse (Anna Shields), the comatose patient she cares for, and a flea infestation. “Grubbery” is about two models (Sarah Von Ouhl and Laura LaFrate) with a disgusting eating disorder. “Bugger” is a black comedy centered on an insect fetishist (Chuck Girard) and a serial killer. “There are parallels between the three stories,” says Cring.

Creeping Crawling is the Crings’ 15th feature film—and their first to be shot from their own script, making the screenplay award even more satisfying. The ideas for the interlocking stories came from Tracy. Owens was brought in to write “Bugger” (which co-stars cult horror icon Raine Brown) and ended up contributing to the entire film. “When we read Josh’s draft of ‘Bugger,’ and how he made it funny, we couldn’t believe it,” says Cring. “The collaborating has been awesome.”

Creeping Crawling has been featured by Fangoria in an online photo essay, and in another affirmation of the film’s disturbing imagination, it will have a Halloween-week theatrical run, playing at the Madison from Monday (Oct. 29) to Nov. 1.

“I’m proud of it,” says Cring. “It has interesting tones, and the score (by Bear Campo of Black Mountain Symphony) accentuates them in ways that were surprising to me. And Tracy’s incredible editing pushes the stories forward. There’s a meshing of music and visuals and editing that really serves the script.”

The film’s stars will be in attendance for tomorrow’s premiere at the Madison Theater (7 and 9:30 PM, $5), with a “performance” by the six-legged extras in an exhibit by bug wrangler Shaun Cebula at 6 pm. For more information, visit creepingcrawling.com.