The horror genre has gone to hell, or has it? Jeepers Creepers steps away from the normal masked teenage psychopath killing his friends to something a little darker, such as a demon who likes to feed on his victims and then sew them back together.
Justin Long ("Ed") and Gina Philips ("Ally McBeal") star as a brother and sister duo heading home from college. The action starts almost immediately from there as they are almost run down by an ugly old truck, and then later they witness the man who drives that truck throwing what appears to be dead bodies down a drainage pipe. From there, death and terror ensue.
I like how Jeepers Creepers subtlety dives almost right into the horror of the story, annihilating the common "opening murder scene" and then the lax follow up. Obviously, the people in charge of making Jeepers Creepers knew that audiences were tiring of the same old thing and went for something new, or at least something that hasn't been tried in a long time. Creepers hardly has any false jump scenes, the moments where the music and tension build up, only to be stopped abruptly by one of the good characters hopping out of a corner. In fact, the entire movie relies less on jump scenes and more on pure creepiness, and in my opinion, which is the only opinion, that is the way to go. Jeepers Creepers really never lets up the suspense, and by keeping a consistent level of terror, the movie avoids the usual crests and troughs often seen in horror movies (night comes and some characters are killed and almost killed, and then the movie flashes to daytime and you don't really have to worry). Jeepers Creepers takes place all during one night, and it is dark the entire time.
In fact, while not at the same level of creepiness, Jeepers Creepers seems a lot like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in style. The way some scenes are shot, and the way the characters go on and on not knowing why they are being chased, reminded me of that classic.
I also liked how the cops aren't dimwits; they actually do believe the kids to an extent, and get to witness the creature firsthand. There isn't very much of that "practical joke" crap that every horror movie seems to have.
Jeepers Creepers isn't all good. As a lot of critics have already mentioned, the first half hour is by far the best part of the movie. I really didn't have a problem with any of the movie until the end, which is downright awful. Sure, it might not be exactly what you're expecting of a horror movie, but Creepers is so blatantly obvious about setting up a sequel that it is shameful.
Unfortunately, Jeepers Creepers does not explain the purpose of the creature very well, or at least it doesn't allow the two main characters to figure it out on their own. Instead, the movie takes time to allow a crazy psychic (one of the most annoying characters of all time) to describe the creature's purpose. Of course, no one really cares since she is so annoying to listen to.
As for the acting, both Long and Philips do a pretty good job. Philips, at times, becomes annoying, especially around the psychic; the psychic is trying to explain things and Philips just shouts at her, telling her to go away. Both characters do some stupid things, but not nearly as bad as acts done in other horror movies.
Jeepers Creepers is a dark and suspenseful horror movie that sways away from typical fare. If the whole movie was like the first half hour, it would be extraordinary, but what is delivered instead isn't that bad. The only thing that hurts the movie is the ending, which has about as much excitement as a road trip across Kansas. Nevertheless, it is a welcome reminder that there are still some original moments left in the horror genre.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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