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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 263: Jeepers Creepers

Jeepers Creepers
And now the song is stuck in your head forever

Stay on the highway. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not take the scenic route, do not take back roads, and do not stop. Of course, if people actually followed these common-sense rules, we'd lose hundreds of horror movies. Just like how horror characters just have to run upstairs to get away from a killer, they also have to take the most dangerous road possible, preferably in a car that is guaranteed to break down. These tropes and cliches are tried and true in the horror genre. The real challenge is to fill in all the details with something different or interesting.

Jeepers Creepers is a 2001 horror movie starring Justin Long (Dodgeball, Galaxy Quest) as Darry Jenner and Gina Philips (Dead And Breakfast, The Sick House) as his sister, Trish. The siblings are driving one the back-roads of Florida, heading home for Spring Break from college. Their 1960 Chevy Impala is run off the road by a large, rusted truck. Further down the road, they spot the truck parked outside of an old church. They see the driver, a hulking man who's face is obscured by a cowboy hat, dumping what appear to be bodies down a large pipe. The drive sees Trish and Darry and pursues them in his truck, attempting to run them off the road again. They escape and, at the insistence of Darry, double-back to the church. Darry climbs down the pipe on a rope, but Trish loses her grip and Darry falls into a small cavern. Inside, Darry discovers hundreds of dead bodies, all of which have been eviscerated and sewn back together. He is able to escape the cavern through the church and is traumatized by his experience. Trish takes Darry to a nearby gas station where they call the police. While waiting, they get a phone call from an unknown woman, warning them of what is to come. She plays the 1930's song “Jeepers Creepers” saying that when they hear that song, they are in terrible danger. The ignore her warning and join the police on the way to the church when the police receive word that the church is on fire. On the way, the police are attacked by the driver who eats the tongue out of one of the officer's decapitated head. The driver pursues Trish and Darry, but Trish hits him with her car repeatedly. To their surprise, the driver sprouts large bat-like wings. They drive to a local police station to wait for their parents when they meet Jezelle Hartman (Patricia Belcher, The Number 23, (500) Days Of Summer) the woman who warned them on the phone earlier. She explains that her dreams predict the future and that the driver is an ancient immortal demon known as The Creeper who feasts on human body parts to stay alive. The Creeper smelled something it liked on Trish or Darry and will stop until he gets what he wants. How will Trish and Darry survive?

Creeper is way better than his original name 'Pizza-Face Lipschitz'

Jeepers Creepers is a horror movie geared towards the high school and sleepover crowd more than the typical horror fan. That's not to say that the movie is low on scares or gore, because it's not, but the overall feel of the movie just doesn't feel like an adult movie. Perhaps it's the main characters, Trish and Darry, who's lack of maturity make the movie come off as something more suited for viewing with a group of friends. It might also be because Justin Long has a very punchable face and I say that as someone who thought he was funny in the movie Dodgeball. Maybe that's because those douchey “I'm a Mac” commercials starring Long are still fresh in my head. The plot is undoubtedly generic, but does try to create it's own mythology by adding a new monster to the mix. The plot also relies on people doing incredibly stupid things which does get tiresome once you've already seen a lot of horror movies. Jeepers Creepers tends to set things up well, but fizzles after the action, leaving a lot of questions. If the Creeper has been around for years, why would he bother driving like a maniac and honking his horn, drawing attention to himself? How does Jezelle have these future-telling dreams? Why is there no follow-up after The Creeper kills a bunch of cops inside a police station? Why couldn't Trish and Darry just keep running away?

I give Jeepers Creepers credit for having the two main characters be brother and sister instead of boyfriend and girlfriend. It is very rare to have that and gives the movie a different dynamic than your average “attacked on the back roads” horror movie. Of course, it does bring up the small issue of a lack of romantic interest. Just about every movie has a romantic interest for the main character(s), but Jeepers Creepers does not. Why is that? The Creeper is a decent supernatural villain with some fun powers and an overall creepiness thanks to his cannibalism and strange look. I would have liked more on his origin a little sooner in the movie, but something is better than nothing. The is a fair amount of fun violence and more gore than you would expect from this type of movie. The inclusion of the Jezelle character is a bit too random and I'm not a particular fan of the “magical lady” character that occasionally pops up in horror and science fiction. She reminded me a lot of The Oracle from The Matrix, though much more enjoyable to watch. The movie also feels short, just barely making it to the 90 minute mark. I know I complain about movies being too long, but this really stuck out to me. The acting in the movie is fairly good and the dialogue relatively believable for college-age people in the early 00's.

"You don't understand. I'm a Mac! Doesn't that mean anything to you?!"

Jeepers Creepers has it's moments thanks to some good violence and gore. There is also a bit of dark humor in the movie, which may or may not elicit a laugh or two. The plot is pretty standard with a lot of the typical cliches and tropes you've come to expect in these types of horror movies. There are a few good scares and a genuinely creepy monster to keep things entertaining. The usage of the song “Jeepers Creepers” doesn't really make sense and feels forced in to the plot just so they could use the name for the title of the movie. The character development is a bit rushed and iffy at times and the lack of a love interest surprised me. The acting and direction is fine though nothing stands out in particular. There is already one sequel made with a third on the way. Jeepers Creepers doesn't have much that you haven't seen before, but it could be considered a good starter movie for someone just getting into horror.


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