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Movie Review

Jeepers Creepers

MPAA Rating: R for terror violence/gore, language and brief nudity

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller, Horror
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Relevant Issues
Jonathan Breck in “Jeepers Creepers”
Featuring: Justin Long, Gina Philips, Jonathan Breck, Eileen Brennan, Patricia Belcher
Director: Victor Salva
Producer: Tom Luse, Barry Opper
Distributor: MGM/UA
Justin Long and Gina Philips in “Jeepers Creepers”

I made a last-minute decision to see this film, with no prior knowledge of the content except that it was some kind of supernatural thriller. don’t let my mistake be yours.

The film opens on a brother and sister, Darry and Trish (Justin Long, Gina Philips), driving home from college in a nicely-restored 1960 Chevy Impala. While they’re in the middle of a good-natured sibling rivalry argument, a beat-up old van-truck with a cryptic license plate attacks them from behind. The truck driver can’t be seen. This sequence reminded me of Steven Spielberg’s maiden feature, “Duel.”

After shaking off the truck, the pair later see that same truck parked behind a boarded-up church and the driver (face still not clearly visible) dumping a bundle that may be a human body down a large pipe that leads to the basement. The truck attacks again; after shaking it off a second time, Darry decides that they need to go back to the church and investigate. Trish objects, something to the effect that this is the turning point in bad movies and they’re making the wrong choice. But they go back anyhow. The imagery of a church with a broken cross and overrun by blackbirds is reminiscent of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” or something from Edgar Allen Poe. But it’s nothing compared to what Darry discovers in the basement.

There are several additional tributes to other films and some silly self-parody and other attempts at humor; but primarily this is a very negative creeper/slasher film in the “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th” category. And thanks to its opening-weekend box-office, it may become a new series. For the sake of those who want to see this film and be surprised, I won’t give anything else away except to warn you that the feeling of hopelessness that runs throughout is fully justified by the ending.

Content Warnings

There’s extreme profanity, several murders, cannibalism, and a large helping of special-effects blood, gore and dismembered body parts. By identifying with the brother-and-sister central characters, we’re all made to share their despair.

Based on normal screenwriting rules, everything about this film is wrong. The bad guy is supposed to get all the breaks including unexpected help, supernatural or otherwise; that’s one way of raising the stakes so that when the good guys finally win, they’re perceived as greater heroes. Here, the good guys get the extra help; a psychic (Patricia Belcher) warns them what’s coming. But it’s all for naught. they’re up against a demonic being that can’t be killed or defeated; nothing they do will make any difference. They first get in harm’s way by trying, unsuccessfully, to help someone else; they persist; they manifest self-sacrifice; and their final reward is defeat. Lovely theme. The only way to make sense of how the story is written is to look at it with a twisted mind whereby the bad guy is really the good guy and vice versa; then, everything else falls into place.

Speaking of twisted minds, it’s sometimes said that only those with the most noble intentions have a right to speak to people for two hours in the dark (i.e., to be screenwriters or directors). In the real world, that saying is pure window dressing. Without presuming to judge another person’s heart, I should mention that the writer/director of this film served time for sexually molesting a 12-year-old actor in one of his previous horror films and videotaping the abuse. After being paroled, he went back to his chosen profession. On the set of his next horror film (produced by a Disney subsidiary), he was watched closely to make sure he didn’t harm anyone in the cast or crew. Am I the only one who thinks that there’s another issue here? Paroled felons are normally barred for life from owning a gun, regardless of whether their crimes were nonviolent (even former Vice President Agnew, still facing threats of assassination after his release, had to get special permission to own and carry a gun). Jimmy Hoffa, as a special condition of parole, had to forsake union organizing activity for the rest of his life. If supernatural slasher films with fatalist, bad-guy-wins themes are going to be made, wouldn’t it at least be sensible to bar certain people from making them? Just a thought.

Viewer Comments
Neutral—I am into the horror genre and I thought J.C. was one of the better horror films for the new generation. I have waited for a while to see this film. I have been following it through Fangoria… a horror magazine. When it came out I went and seen it. It was excellent. Independent horror films are what make a good time. The demon was kinda stupid but it was a lot better than the scream guy. The Director’s style ranked up there with Lloyd Kaufman (Toxic Avenger, Tromeo and Juliet), Sam Rami (Evil Dead trilogy, Spiderman), and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) my personal film heros. The child molesting thing happened 13 years ago. don’t hold that against him by not seeing the film…
My Ratings: [4]
—Melvin Junko, age 17
…full of expletives and expressions of horror that you would expect from people who are running across dead bodies stuck by some mysterious goop to the wall and those who have to suffer losing a body part to the Creeper. This movie is just awful. I have heard reports of everyone in the theater yelling, “Stupid! Stupid!” I said it myself several times. it’s really that bad. The only mildly amusing parts are the two occasions where boom microphones are clearly visible in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. I didn’t expect brain food here, but at very least we could have had a little less predictability and a plot line that made any sense whatsoever. We got neither. I can’t stress enough how strongly I believe you should run screaming from the theater if you are even tempted to see this movie. It is a waste of time.

Predictably, the main characters are plagued throughout the movie with what a psychic tells them will spell an end for them. We repeatedly hear throughout the movie, “Jeepers, creepers, where’d you get those peepers?” you’ll never guess what body part our Creeper needs in the end of the movie. Come on, think hard. When the temptation is there to do the sequel (oh yeah, they left it wide open), please don’t do it! And if Hollywood stoops to making a sequel just for the sake of the almighty dollar, don’t go see it! Writer of the old song “Jeepers Creepers”, Harry Warren, who wrote the song for the Warner Brothers Movie, “Going Places” (starring Ronald Reagan and Dick Powell), and Louie Armstrong, who often performed the old hit, must certainly be turning over in their graves that their music has been put to such use. May they (and this film) rest in peace!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1]
—Rhonda, age 35
The first half of this movie is exciting and scary, and the last half is so totally pointless. It was simple bad, *lazy* storytelling towards the end, and that’s simply inexcusable. I would advise Christians to see this movie simply because the storytelling showcases one of the seven deadly sins, sloth. It is always good to know the enemy.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1]
—Gordon, age 33
I enjoyed this film—it’s a rollercoaster ride of a horror film, full of genuine scares and creepy moments rather than constant dripping blood and gore. that’s not to say there isn’t nasty imagery up there on the screen—it’s just not always shown in detail. In fact, the most bloody things seem to happen in the dark, often illuminated from behind by torchlight. In some ways, this makes them look more gory due to the imagination coming into play. it’s not for everyone—If you don’t like horror, then don’t go and see it. Also, if you can’t handle a film that changes tone to a supernatural thriller part way through, you may not like this. The first part of the film relies on tension and mystery. The two young protagonists are being chased by SOMETHING in a seemingly unstoppable van, and we know SOMETHING nasty is going on, but just not what.

These scenes are a little like Spielberg’s movie Duel. However, we find ourselves in new territory when suddenly the driver of the truck appears—from nowhere—on top of a moving car—and punches through the roof. SPOILER ALERT—soon after, it becomes clear that they are not dealing with a human foe. In fact, something the film does well is likely to infuriate as much as impress. It never explains itself, and leaves you the viewer to piece together the clues. WE don’t know what this creature is—a monster, or demon, or whatever. We don’t know if the dreams the lady had are real, or if she’s psychic.

The film reminded me very strongly in tone of early Stephen King—perhaps with a little Clive Barker thrown in. This should give you an idea of if you’ll find it offensive or not. There is some swearing, some childish scatalogical insulting, some nudity—on a corpse, and some violence. There’s also some possible psychic powers and a creature who may be a demon—or may not. Interesting to note—The creature resides in a church that has fallen into disuse. Accidental imagery? I think not. If you enjoy horror films, then this is one of the best of the year—however, not everyone will find this edifying, and the sudden and downbeat ending will leave some upset—some may feel cheated, even (it is VERY sudden.)
My Ratings: [4]
—Paul, age 28
This film is a throwback to the fun “B” grade monster movies of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Admittedly, it is more violent, and has more vulgarity, than a lot of those films… The film does have some good scares in it, and I think that you’ll have a good time, if you like these kind of films.
My Ratings: [3]
—Alex Sandell, age 29, non-Christian
This isn’t the best horror film ever made, but it makes for a fun time at the movie theatre. The plot was engaging, and it was somewhat original. However, I would not recommend this film to anyone under the age of 15. Violence was extreme, there were many instances of profanity including lots of F-words—they also said GD about 6 times. There was no sex, although there were a few nude corpses that were shown. Other than that, it was a fairly decent film with a very creepy ending!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 4]
—Adam, age 19
Movie Critics
…several shots of a demonic-looking creature in varying degrees of detail… 12 F-words… 8 religious profanities, 12 religious exclamations…
…[Writer/Director] Salva’s past indiscretions (he’s a convicted child abuser) arguably infuse his film with an angry, fetishistic, oftentimes erotic, skew of on-screen gore…
—Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
…a grab-bag freak show as desperate as it is arbitrary…
—Entertainment Weekly