Written by Dustin Ardouin
Hello Level Uppers! Welcome to my first bit of writing for the channel and my first REAL movie review put on paper. I am a long-time horror movie fan and the 'Jeepers Creepers' movies really resonated with me back in the early 2000's. It was original, had a decent budget and had a strong performance from up and coming actor Justin Long helping to drive the narrative of the first film in 2001. In 2003 with the sequel, it was a school bus full of basketball players and cheerleaders with veteran Ray Wise (Robocop, Twin Peaks) and Eric Nenninger (Malcolm in the Middle, Wet Hot American Summer) helping to flesh out both tales contained within that film. Both films provided a bleak, scary, and unimaginable situation, whereas everyday people were pit against an unstoppable monster, more powerful than anyone could possibly know. 14 years later, The Creeper has returned. But is he still a menacing force to be reckoned with, or is he just consuming our wallets to grow his money back?
As with most reviews, I will give you a spoiler free breakdown, with my thoughts and any recommendations. Then, if you dare to keep reading, I will provide you with the gory details of Victor Salva's third outing, my honest opinions, and finally I will rate the movie our of a five-star scale.
Alright, let’s get eating. First off, this movie was intended for a Straight-to-DVD release for this December. Fans weren't having it and just like The Creepers truck, came screaming like a 'Bat out of Hell' for a call to arms to get it screened in theaters. Well it worked, for a one-day release on September 26th. I was lucky enough to be in attendance, and let me just start by saying 14 years was TOO LONG of a wait (Could you imagine if they waited the full 23?). This 3rd film is by no means the strongest entry in the series but definitely fits in with the previous two, blending elements of each and bringing in a whole new character; one which is very familiar in the other two films, but gets its time to shine in this one. All the acting is really solid, and the creature looked PHENOMENAL. I think this is the best we've seen Jonathan Breck's 'Creeper'. He's tall, brooding, slimy, and possesses every bit of that comical dementedness we've seen before. 14 years hasn't slowed Breck down at all, and he seems to be just as comfortable in his makeup and special effects as The Creepers is with stalking his prey. I will say 2 things I didn’t like about this movie though:
1) The CGI wasn't that awesome. Honestly, it looked like mid-budget SyFy Sharknado kind of effects. I understand, as they did not have the budget with this movie that the previous two did. But the couple of instances where you can tell, YOU CAN TELL. It takes a little bit away from what they were trying to accomplish with those scenes, but they're really not THAT bad. And it's only like two or three times for brief moments where it's even noticeable.
2) There wasn't enough Creeper for me. It's not uninteresting, as they attempt to fill in some story about Who/What The Creeper is, but they could have added a few more moments spotlighting The Creeper as the other characters are figuring it out.
Please, don’t listen to all the negative reviews and check this movie out for yourself, especially if you're a big fan of the first two films. It fits in very nicely with the other two, and is a welcome entry into Salva's Creeper Universe. I give it a very SOLID three and a half stars, losing points only for the two reasons I mentioned above.
OK, NOW ITS SPOILER TIME RANGERS! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU INTEND ON GOING IN BLIND!
Now, let's get down to the good stuff. This movie, although it happens to be made 14 years after the release, takes place in between the previous films, as a sort of bridge between the two. It starts out directly after The Creeper smashes through the window with Darry Jenner (Justin Long) and flies off. The police are waiting for a 'Special Unit', as they are investigating the truck that was left behind. That’s where we are introduced to this new character in the series, The Truck. It has been a menacing, scary sight to any who have seen it driving around out on Highway 9, and in this installment, takes on a whole new life. There are traps, and weapons, and gidgets and gadgets galore. The Creepers arsenal is vast, and we see just a taste of what he has and what he can do in these films. I've always had a special spot in my heart for movie vehicles, and this truck is no different. After seeing this one, I can say my love for it has deepened, immensely. When one officer walks behind the truck, it auto-fires a spear tipped with one of The Creepers special daggers, narrowly missing the officer, and scaring the begeesus out of all standing around. It's about this time we are re-introduced to Sergeant Tubbs (Brandon Smith) who was the leader of the police station during the final act of the first movie. He looks GREAT. They do a good job of making him look like he did 16 years ago. He is then met by the 'Special Unit' I mentioned.
Led by Sheriff Tashtego (Stan Shaw Snake Eyes, Rocky) they are a group of survivors, all having witnessed The Creeper in some way, alive to tell the tale. Some more invested than others. They are like a SWAT team, trained in trying to defeat The Creeper. At this point, we see that they have gone a little overboard, arriving with a big truck, toting a modified chain gun in the bed, armed with special ammo. (I must admit I kind of laughed when I saw it, BUT in that situation... F yeah. I'd probably want that for some defense too. We are also introduced to Gaylon Brandon (Meg Foster, Masters of the Universe, They Live) which is revealed to be the mother to Kenny Brandon. Kenny, whom you will remember from the first movie when Darry and Trisha are speaking about the couple that died on prom night (Wheaton Valley Class of '78) is portrayed for the first time by Jordan Salloum (AMC's Preacher, Get Hard). He's a ghost speaking to and warning his mother in the vein of Justin Long's part in the second film when he warns Minxie (Nicki Aycox) of their impending doom. Long story short, they tow The Truck away, only for it to be recaptured by The Creeper midway (Obviously), who proceeds to ride it 'Surf' style like something out of 'Teen Wolf' (The movie, not that ungodly travesty that MTV plays). He then returns to, let’s call it judge, the tow truck driver and the officer riding with him. One of them doesn’t make it. The other tries calling for help on a dead radio.
Next, a group of teens are out riding their dirt bikes in the back woods/fields of the city, and happen to come across The Truck. One of them notices the "BEATINGU" license plate, and remembers the stories and rumors being told around town. This is where The Truck gets his, or her, second time to shine. Being teen boys, they decide to try and vandalize and break into the truck, with no luck whatsoever. One of them gets the smart idea to piss all over the front of the bumper, a decision that he will be sorry for later no doubt. As they are watching, one of them manages to hit the sweet spot, and get the rear doors open. And inside, of course, is nothing short of "not what they had planned for the day". Multiple bodies. "Wrapped in a sheet. Wrapped and roped in a sheet. Wrapped and roped in a sheet, with red stains on it." They decide to get back on their dirt bikes and go for help, but when The Truck sees this, it simply does not agree. Using the auto-fire spear on the rear, it fires and catches one of the riders in his shin, and drags them back to the truck to await its master. His friends return to try and help, but when The Creeper shows up with another body for the pile, all hell breaks loose, and he ends up with even more bodies for the pile. Only one of them manages to make it to their dirt bike and get away, Mr. Pee boy himself. Well, as you could imagine The Creeper wasn't having that, and he ends up getting toasted by a really wicked trap. It happened so quick, I'm not even 100% on what happened here, but when it releases on Blu-Ray, I plan to skip forward to this part to figure out what happened.
All this time, another story is developing between Gaylen's granddaughter, Addsion (Gabrielle Haugh, 13 Reasons Why), and a local boy Buddy (Chester Rushing, Stranger Things, Logan) whose family owns the town market/mill. She leaves Gaylens farm to go get hay for her horse, and Buddy ends up delivering it. He asks her along to make another delivery. She agrees, and when they arrive they get their first taste of The Creeper. The farm they show up to looks deserted at first, but then they notice all the farm hands, and residents hiding under neath whatever they can find. Trailers, trucks, anything to stay hidden from the creature that is terrorizing them. Once they get talking to one of them, The Creeper returns and ends up taking Addison away, and leaving Buddy behind, in his now flipped over delivery truck.
Returning to The Truck, The Creeper leaves Addison who ends up finding out that one of the dirt bike riders is alive still. They work together to try and figure out a way out of the back, only to find out that the inside is also trapped. The teen boy sticks his head between the seats to see if he can see anything, and is met by a spike that fires out between the seats, catching him in the head and killing him instantly. Now this is my favorite part of the movie, as The Creeper returns to find the dead boy, and notices that one of his bodies isnt so wrapped and roped anymore. He grabs Addison, who proceeds to fight back and crawl underneath the spike in between the two seats. The Creeper, either in the heat of the moment or just plain not caring, tries to grab her and judge her using his ability to smell fear, and gets caught by the spike himself, directly in the head. This provides us, the audience, with the best eye popping scene since Negan hit Glen. His eye starts slowly bulging, then with the ever comical "pop" sound effect, comes flying out at the screen and Addison’s face. It. Was. PERFECT.
Anyways, we meet back up with Gaylen, and shes arguing with Kenny, about something that Kenny has buried on the property. Something he warns Gaylen that The Creeper is coming for, and will kill anyone around when he arrives. After arguing, and causing concern amongst her granddaughter, we come to find out that it’s actually a piece of The Creeper, his hand. He lost it during a fight he had with Kenny back in 1978 when he took Kenny's girlfriend, Darla. Kenny reveals to his mother that once he touched it, he knew everything about The Creeper. What he is. Where he comes from. But most importantly, how it can be destroyed. Having lost her son to this horrible monster, she's filled with enough hate to dispense with all safety, and grabbed the hand herself in order to learn The Creepers secrets. Shes approached by Sgt. Tubbs and Sheriff Tashtego (Stan Shaw) and she reveals to them the same info, that touching the hand gains you the knowledge. Sheriff Tashtego knows the score, and touches the hand himself to learn. Now here's where I have another issue. They don't show you what they are shown, and even after watching a 3rd film involving this creature, The Creeper, we still are not given any new information, other than its "Ancient". I think at one point, very briefly the words "7000 years old" is said by one of them. Either way, was kinda disappointed. But was relieved later on.
I don't really wanna spoil the fight between Sgt Tubbs, Sheriff Tashtego, and The Creeper. Just know that theres a couple other neat little tricks and weapons that The Truck displays in order to take out the 'Special Unit' tasked with hunting him, a really cool scene involving that modified chain gun, and just a tad more of that trashy CGI.
The film ends with Gaylen leaving The Creeper his hand, nailed down to a note saying simply "We know what you are" on it, allowing The Creeper to have his very own "NOOOOOO!!!!" moment, reminescent of Darth Vader during the final moments of "Revenge of the Sith". As the final moments of the movie are wrapping up, Addison and Buddy are talking and he pulls out a yellow Bannon High School varsity jacket and sports bag, as a school bus pulls up with the inhabitants singing the Bannon Bantham Anthem. Fans will recognize the song as being sung by the basketball team in the second film. YES. Apparently, Buddy was on the bus in Jeepers Creepers 2. (I both like and dislike this ending for him. Because, in part 2, if he WAS on the bus... wouldn’t he have noticed the same thing that’s terrorizing him and his teammates, was the same thing him and Addison ran into just a day or 2 earlier?) After he gets on the bus, we are treated to a shot of tables filled with clippings about everything we've seen in the 3 films thus far. Also, a very familiar voice starts speaking words of hope and compassion, well informed of the situation at hand. We have flashed forward 23 years. Its Trisha Jenner (Gina Philips, Jeepers Creepers 1). Vowing revenge on the thing that killed her brother, Darry. Then, cut to black. (I really hope a part 4 gets made!)
I really enjoyed this movie. It wasn't as big of a disappointment as so many people are making it out to be. It didn’t try too hard, it had more story and depth than the other two. The Creeper looked SWEET. The Truck was an oh so pleasant surprise. The CGI left me wanting, but I think the experience outweighs my necessity for top notch special effects. They didn’t look that bad. They didn’t look that good either. Overall, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who liked the first two films. It’s not a standalone, so please don’t go into this movie blind to what The Creeper has done in films before. If the CGI were better, and we had a few more scenes involving The Creeper eating some fools, then I would have no problem giving it four stars. But for those reasons, I would say a SOLID three and a half star movie. Look for Encore Showings in theaters on October 4th, and on DVD and Blu Ray December 26th.