Movie Review: Jeepers Creepers
By Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune Staff Reporter
You might think that even the most dim-witted horror movie would have an internal logic. Monsters and serial killers behave in accordance with their bloody legends, and even their hapless prey have some idea of how to stop these murderous rampages.
Yet "Jeepers Creepers" presents no logic and few likable characters. Instead, writer and director Victor Salva ("Powder") offers up a nameless, creepy, flesh-eating monster and little explanation of its motives, history or weaknesses. The rubber-masked monster (The Creeper, as the press notes identify him) simply is, and the reasons we're supposed to be scared of him are never made clear.
He apparently didn't pass his driver's exam, though, as he almost runs siblings Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry (Justin Long) off the road in a scene ripped right out of "Duel." They survive this first encounter, only to find the rusted-out truck again this time parked near an abandoned church, with its trench coat-clad driver throwing something resembling a body bag (or two) down a pipe. Curious Darry, showing the survival instincts of a desk lamp, is compelled to investigate finding a cache of well-preserved bodies plastering the walls and ceiling in an underground hideout. There's also a boy dying on the floor, with his sewn-up stomach barely containing whatever quivers under his skin. Is any of this ever explained? No.
The two actually make it to the police, who are of little help against the vaguely supernatural. Then a psychic woman (Patricia Belcher) tells them about her visions: One of them will be killed while the song "Jeepers Creepers" plays in the background, they will encounter cats, and The Creeper gets to feed on people every 23rd spring for 23 days. It, possibly a demon or a devil, eats people's eyes in order to see, eats their lungs to breathe, and uses fear to choose who will be its next meal.
Why? Again, no explanation is offered; the psychic simply says, "It's not like watching a movie there are parts missing sometimes." Actually, it's exactly like watching this movie, which plays like an incomplete nightmare that will be forgotten before breakfast.
Salva's fifth film, executive-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, plays like an amateur debut effort written over a weekend during which its writer wasn't entirely sober. A too-loud, overly dramatic score carpet-bombs the audience into submission, but this doesn't mean we're scared just shell-shocked.
If we have to wait 23 years for a sequel, it'll be too soon.
Written and directed by Victor Salva; photographed by Don E. Fauntleroy; edited by Ed Marx; production designed by Steven Legler; produced by Barry Opper and Tom Luse. A United Artists release; opens Friday, Aug. 31. Running time: 1:30. MPAA rating: R (terror violence/gore, language and brief nudity).
Trish Gina Philips
Darry Justin Long
The Creeper Jonathan Breck
Patricia Belcher Jezelle Gay Hartman
Sgt. Tubbs Brandon Smith
The Cat Lady Eileen Brennan