Director: Victor Salva
You know what movies lack nowadays? Originality. The sleeper hit Jeepers Creepers gave cinema a good shot of originality back in the summer of 2001, and it wasn't a bad film at all.
Darry Jenner (Justin Long) and his sister Trish (Gina Philips) are driving through some back roads on their way home from college, discussing an urban legend. It just so happens that a young couple they knew died on the particular road, with Darry noting "they never found her head." Trish also happens to mention that she "always thought this would be the road [she]'d die on." Meanwhile, a huge truck, driven by who they assume is a redneck, starts hassling them, apparently trying to run them off the road. They finally swerve into a field, and the truck flies by. Finally getting back on the road, the siblings see the truck parked next to an abandoned church, and someone in a long trenchcoat and huge hat dumping something into a drainpipe. Something wrapped in a sheet covered in red stains. What could it be? Could it be a dead body? Could it be a sheet covered in red paint and cherry Kool-Aid? These meddling kids just have to find out. All they need is a talking dog and a dork in a neckerchief and they'd be the Scooby Gang.
They turn around and wait until they're alone, then Darry looks down into the drainpipe before accidentally falling in. Darn the luck. But you know he was gonna fall in. Why? If they'd kept on driving and pretended nothing happened, the movie would have been five minutes long. Anyway, it turns out that poor Darry has landed in a giant cave, and the walls are covered with dead bodies. Darry searches for an exit, and happens to discover the couple he was discussing with his sister: dead and sown together, with her head stiched back onto her neck. She really did lose her head. Darry finds a way out, as it turns out the cave is actually the basement of the old church, and all they're really concerned with is getting out of there. They call the police from a pay phone at a diner (since Darry's cell phone battery is dead), and they're told a unit is on the way. While they wait for the cops, the pay phone starts ringing. Darry picks it up, and on the other end is an old woman who tells them that the basement full of bodies is called "the House of Pain," and warns them about the truck and the song "Jeepers Creepers." If they hear that song, something bad will happen. Ooh, exposition fever. Catch it!
The cops arrive at the diner, and Darry tells them his insane story about seeing the House of Pain. Naturally, they don't believe him, and the cops agree to follow them out to the old church so Darry can prove it. The cops hear a report over their radio that the church is burning down, and in Darry and Trish's car, they land on the song "Jeepers Creepers" on the radio. Through the rear windshield behind them, we can see who we'll call The Creeper (played by Jonathan Breck) standing on the roof of the police car. And guess what? He's got a huge battle axe with him. Can you say "the cops are dead meat"? Sure, I knew that you could. Anyway, the kids eventually end up at the police station, where they call their parents and meet Jezelle (Patricia Belcher), who happens to be the nutty old lady that called them at the diner. She tells them all the necessary backstory about the Creeper. Backstory, you ask? Why yes. Every twenty-three years, for twenty-three days, the Creeper gets to eat. Eat what? Us.
You don't see to many movies about man-eating monsters anymore, especially man-eating monsters that wheel around in old beat-up trucks. So we can't say the movie's not original. However, much of the movie just doesn't seem all that good. Don't get me wrong, I like the movie. But after the opening, it seems dull. And don't get me started on the crazy psychic lady. Oh man, I hate hate HATE her. I wanted to see the Creeper just rip her head off and crap down her neck, and it NEVER HAPPENS. However, I will give the movie props for having some cool moments. The entire opening, up until the kids discover the House of Pain, is great (very reminiscent of films like Duel), and the tongue scene (you'll know what I mean when you see it) is wonderfully disgusting. And the ending shows a lot of bravery, because it's not the typical "let's wrap things up with a bow" Hollywood ending.
The acting is a mixed bag. I liked Gina Philips in her role, but Justin Long seemed inconsistant. He was good at times, annoying at times. But at least he wasn't as bad as Patricia Belcher. I never ever ever want to see her in a movie or on TV again. EVER. She makes me want to start throwing bricks every time I see her. Both her character and her acting ability are absolutely awful. Eileen Brennan, who you might recognize as Mrs. Peacock from the far underrated Clue movie, shines in her appearance as the eccentric Cat Lady. Even though she's only in one scene, she's still better than Patricia Belcher. The music, composed by Bennett Salvay, isn't bad at all. Creepy, foreboding, and almost a character in itself. Victor Salva made the wise decision to play up the music instead of sound effects in scenes like the opening car chase. Overall, I'll give the music a thumbs-up.
I'm gonna give Jeepers Creepers three stars. You wouldn't miss anything by not watching it, but there are some really awesome moments that deserve to be seen. It's worth a rental if you're looking for a way to kill an hour and a half. But three stars is what I'm giving it, and I'm sticking to that.
Final Rating: ***