Jeepers Creepers

Review Date:
Director: Victor Salva
Writer: Victor Salva
Producers: Tom Lusse and Barry Opper
Justin Long as Darry, Gina Phillips as Trish, Eileen Brennan as Jezelle
A brother and sister driving home through the countryside witness a man throwing wrapped-up bodies down a chute. The two decide to go back and look into the matter (don’t ask!) and fall into a heap o’ trouble. You bet!
A definite step in the right direction in respect to the horror genre in films today, but not without its own set of pitfalls. I really dug the first half of this film. It was creepy, it was methodically paced yet filled with tension, it reminded me of films like DUEL and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and it placed the audience into realistic situations with some damn scary thoughts. Unfortunately, the second half of the film fell into the same ol’ contrivances that have plagued horror films from the beginning. We get the leads running out of gas, having trouble starting their car, cops not believing their story, folks standing around watching scary stuff go down when they should be running and basically a lot of goofy decision-making on the part of the protagonists. And to top it all off, they actually thought that it might be a good idea to toss a psychic into the second half…that’s right, you heard me correctly, a psychic! Ugh. I hate when screenwriters take the “easy way” out and slap an all-knowing character into these films, a person who comes into the story to explain the entire thing to the audience and give the leads advice on what to do next and tell us what is happening (don’t you think we’re a little smarter than that?). This film didn’t need that type of character, as its premise alone was a very credible and scary one.

I mean, here are a couple of good ol’ American kids driving through the heartland and witnessing a creepy-looking man shoving, what appears to be, dead human bodies down a drainpipe. Scary shit, right? Well, this film does an excellent job of building up all of that tension early on and keeping the “bad guy” hidden for the first half of the movie. You wonder what is going on, you root for the two kids because you appreciate what they might be going through. Credit director Salva for creating that extra-special strain in the film with some interesting directing choices and an excellent score for even more creeps. It’s too bad that the second half of the film just doesn’t pan out as well as you might hope. I tend to lose interest in lead characters whenever they start doing stupidities in horror flicks, like standing around watching when they should be turning around and running! But there were also a couple of small plot holes that bothered me here as well, like why the “bad guy” felt the need to play songs when whacking out his victims (or making correlations to them) or why he had a namesake license plate? I mean…did I miss something here?

But overall, the film was definitely a nice change of pace from all of the teen slasher garbage that we’ve been getting of late, and I certainly appreciated its “old school” mentality (no MTV soundtrack in sight!). So I would still recommend that you check this movie out, just to see what will hopefully be the continuation of more creepy, tension-filled horror movies (SESSION 9, THE OTHERS, GINGER SNAPS). Oh yeah, and the final shot of this film is one that I will remember forever. Brrrrrrrr…thank you Salva, for not going “Hollywood” on us in the very end.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian