JEEPERS CREEPERS: REBORN (2022)
Release Date: 09/19/22 [Cinemas/VOD]
Studio: Screen Media
"Forced to travel with her boyfriend, Laine begins to experience premonitions associated with the urban myth of The Creeper. She believes that something supernatural has been summoned - and that she is at the center of it all."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Growing up there were only two movie monsters that scared me: Tim Curry’s Pennywise and The Creeper. In fact, the original two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s IT was so terrifying to me as a child that I didn’t finish it until I was an adult. Embarrassing, I know, but it’s a true testament to how effective horror movies can be. Because the Jeepers Creepers franchise came out a decade after IT, I encountered The Creeper when I was a bit older. But both the character’s design and capabilities made him just as terrifying. The teeth. The wings. The fact that he could regenerate by simply eating his prey. The sequence where he decapitates a high school student and grows a new head in Jeepers Creepers 2 still makes me squirm to today.
I say all this to say that Jeepers Creepers was once poised to be a staple of the horror genre and its limits. With the latest entry in the series, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, that is no longer the case.
The film begins with a bit of a misdirect. An old couple is driving down a deserted strip, when all of a sudden their car is nearly driven off the road by a giant truck. It’s a cute callback to the first film, but it’s also the only bit of flattery this one offers. And it only spirals out of control from this point forward. Relieved that they no longer have to deal with the menace behind them, the couple continues driving. But minutes later they drive by the same truck and notice the mysterious driver lugging a bloody sheet and dropping it into a large pipe near an old house. They panic almost immediately realizing that they probably weren’t meant to witness what they saw. Before they can even decide if they should call the cops, the truck reappears behind them and tries to drive them off the road again. They survive, but they get out to talk more about what happened. They ultimately decide to go back to confirm what they saw so that they can be sure before they go to the cops. When they return to the old house, they make a horrifying discovery, but it all turns out to be a part of some Unsolved Mysteries rip-off one of our real main characters is watching.
Believe it or not, that’s only the first five minutes of this film. While short, the scene is very indicative of how ridiculous, frustrating, and nonsensical the rest of the film will be.
The real film follows lovers Laine and Chase as they head to the popular HorrorHound Festival, or the “Coachella of cosplay” as one character later refers to it as unironically. Laine isn’t a major horror fan, but she’s willing to give the event a chance for Chase. Little does she know that there are greater forces at work and a conspiracy against her to try and reincarnate The Creeper, who in their world is believed to just be a myth.
Yes, it’s very confusing. And yes, the film tries to be very self-aware, but it doesn’t work because it never knows where to draw the line between what’s real and what’s fake. For example, throughout the film Laine has visions of a cult performing rituals on her and sacrificing her to The Creeper, but none of those things ever actually happen. Those visions literally serve no purpose. And it’s hard to tell whether there were several scenes cut out of the movie or if several of the film’s story arcs do not mesh.
Because of how all over the place the film is, I’m inclined to believe that the latter is likely the case.There’s literally a montage where Laine changes into different revealing costumes for Chase. It eventually leads to them having sex. Even though the audience eventually learns Laine is pregnant, like the visions, this whole sequence absolutely serves no purpose.
On one hand, this film is a slasher. On the other hand, it’s an escape room film. On another (smaller) hand, it’s a psychological thriller. You see where the problem is though? HINT: It’s not that there aren’t enough hands. There’s barely room for The Creeper. And The Creeper we get here is not the same creature we’ve come to know (literally).
The Creeper is a tactical and very calculated character. Given that he’s only allowed to lurk and feed for 23 days, every 23 years, he has to be. And the way he approaches every situation, whether it be trapping a bunch of students on a bus or toying with a bunch of police officers, makes him fun to watch and partially root for. The fact that he’s played by a different actor aside, here he feels like he’s motivated by something other than hunger. There is an argument that something could be life, given the film’s title or that one of the few things established is that The Creeper is nearing the end of his current cycle. But I’m more inclined to believe that producers who wanted to reboot this franchise didn’t fully understand what makes the character work.
I want to make it clear that I hold nothing against director Timo Vuorensola. In fact, his direction may be the film’s only redeeming factor. Even if it isn’t groundbreaking, he’s able to maintain the film’s dreadful aesthetic from beginning to end. For a film as inconsistent as this one, I consider that quite an accomplishment.
The visual effects, however, are not good. I’m not just talking about The Creeper’s visual downgrade. They butchered my boy. Having personally spoken to Vuorensola, I’m aware that there were limitations making it during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I don’t understand how a film could still look so bad with a $5 million budget. The green screen and CGI are so noticeably horrible during the final 10 minutes, that it genuinely felt like I was watching an unfinished product.
Now, there are varying degrees of bad. Sometimes a film is so bad that you laugh (think Troll 2 or Leprechaun in the Hood). But then sometimes you get something like Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, where the whole thing is so bad that you can’t fathom how or why it was made. This film is reportedly the start of a brand new trilogy. However, I think the producers either need to go back to the drawing board or let The Creeper sleep for good.