Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Jeepers Creepers (2001)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Horror
  • Director: Victor Salva
  • Cast: Justin Long, Gina Philips, Jonathan Breck


On their way back home during the spring break, Darry and Patricia Jenner witness a mysterious person dumping something down a tunnel. Deciding to discover what was dumped down there, Darry discovers a huge disturbing hideout full of modified bodies. Darry and Patricia set off to get help, unaware that the individual is now aware of who has been down the tunnel. Darry and Patricia soon realizes that their pursuer is not just a mysterious person, but something even more horrifying, who has more in store than they could possibly imagine.

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  • Every horror franchise has its issues, whether it be a lack of attention to detail or cliched writing there’s usually something a horror fan will expect to happen at least once during the running time. Unfortunately like a lot of other genres, these tropes end up making these films too generic in most respects resulting them in either being a one-time watch or possibly not even finished. For director Victor Salva, although this is not his most critically acclaimed piece, it is probably the one that sticks with him the most. For what is given, it’s actually not a bad film at all. Regrettably though, it has writing issues that if addressed, could have made it more entertaining than it already is. The story is about a brother and sister heading home from spring vacation through a rural community when they witness a man dropping what appears to be a body down a giant shoot. Curiosity gets the better of them and soon enough, what they go looking for ends up following them.

    What distinguishes this cautionary tale of minding your own business from other horror films is that its writing contains very little, if none at all of the usual horror tropes. As stated before the main characters are brother and sister. That already is a big difference from other films. Most plots rely either on a group of people (as fodder for the killer) or focus on only one person. Also the people who are killed are not the same either. Even the jump scares aren’t as obligatorily noticeable. This is a game changer because a lot of generic horror films are still produced this way and these kinds of antics get old really fast. Now if only Salva was able to fix the rest of his script, then this would’ve been some horror film. For one thing, the brother, Darry (Justin Long) and Trish (Gina Philips) are not exactly what you would call the most likable of protagonists. It’s not that the audience would despise them but they don’t exactly cooperate well nor do they have the best of attitudes. I mean yeah, siblings bicker sure, but there’s no scene that shows their softer side so it’s hard for its audience to fall behind the main characters. And personally, Justin Long has the doofiest shock face.

    The other parts of the writing Salva forgets to elaborate on is the exposition to the antagonist and clearing up other reasons. Along their travels, the brother sister duo meet a psychic named Jezelle (Patricia Belcher) who has the ability to see visions into the future. Mind you she’s been having these trances for several years and she has no clue why she has them. Ummm,…okay. As for the antagonist known as “the creeper” (Jonathan Breck), which kind of honestly he is, the reasons why he kills is explained but why he doesn’t, goes unexplained. Plus, he has a grotesque side hobby that involves something along the lines of preservation. What exactly is it for? No idea. Since Jezelle is the only one who even knows about the creeper (and for so long) how come she knows so little? She’s literally the creeper’s creeper. Writer/director Salva could’ve went into more detail on this but didn’t so this doesn’t exactly help with fleshing out the villain’s backstory.

    Aside from this however, the rest of the film will manage to keep its audience’s attention. The most effective part to this film’s credit is in fact, its creep factor. The idea of knowing that someone is always following you and wants something from you (and you don’t know what it is) is beyond unnerving. Plus after seeing what he does with his victims, who would want to stick around? As for the gore aspect of this horror feature, it exists but it’s not abundant like one would expect it to be. The good thing is that Victor Salva ensures that certain in scenes when the creeper attacks is not what a viewer would normally predict. The director of photography belonged to Don E. FauntLeRoy who handled each scene nicely by giving it a grainy feel like that of Daniel Pearls’ work from Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). I am curious as to why it’s always in the middle of nowhere that crazy people exist. Why is that? Why is it always the rural communities? Can people really go mad out there that easily?

    Bennett Salvay brought the film score forth. Although much his tracks are anonymous sounding with no real signature, there are a couple that demonstrate Salvay is a competent composer. This mostly belongs to the themes surrounding the brother sister duo or other family related subplots. However, his other tracks are just drudging brass instruments, which emphasize the dread headed their way. But even with this, the tracks do help elevate the tension to an intense level because as said before, director Salva doesn’t have a script with your everyday horror cliches. There is also one more piece of music that is creepy and that is the actual “jeepers creepers” song from the early 1900s. This is used as a motif for the creeper himself. Because the song sounds so jolly, the fact that its being played with a dark character is, well,….creepy.

    Sadly, most of its writing doesn’t explain much about its antagonist and the main two protagonists aren’t exactly the most enjoyable. However, everything else from its special effects, violence, creep factor, music and cinematography work well together. Its screenplay even contains a number of original ideas that don’t follow your regular horror films.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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