April 13, 2018

A Brief Review of Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Jeepers CreepersAs far as horror flicks go, Jeepers Creepers (2001) is an odd one. The first time I saw it, I was on the edge of my seat for the first 20 minutes or so. I felt like I was watching a nearly perfect horror film. The brother-sister banter on the road trip home from college, suddenly interrupted by the crazy-looking truck in their rearview mirror. I was sucked right in and had no difficulty relating to their terror. They then see a man dump what looks like a body into a pipe next to an old church. Heads filled with stories they've heard about missing kids along this stretch of road, the brother insists on investigating while the sister serves as a reluctant lookout. What he finds is horrific. The man returns, gives chase, and we're off an running. But despite such a great start, things go downhill quickly. I left this first viewing feeling very disappointed.

If what you just read about a horror film having a great start and then being a let-down sounds familiar, that might be because I said something very similar about Get Out (2017). There was a fairly big difference though. I thought Get Out was still a good flick in spite of the let-down, but I felt ripped-off the first time I saw Jeepers Creepers. The start of the film made me think it was going in one direction. When it went the ridiculous monster route instead, I felt like it was a waste of time.

I watched Jeepers Creepers again recently, and my impressions were very different this time. I actually enjoyed it even though I would not claim it is a particularly good film. I think this is one of those cases where my expectations were way too high the first time because I knew nothing about what to expect and the beginning was so strong. This time, I knew I was in for a monster flick, and I was able to enjoy it more for what it was instead of what I hoped it would be. Yes, there was still a bit of a let-down when the monster is revealed but nothing that ruined it for me.

I'm in no hurry to see it again, but I could easily imagine watching it again and enjoying it. Aside from the beginning, which I still loved, there aren't many scares in the rest of the film. But there's just enough of an old-school monster vibe to be satisfying to those who don't demand that their horror movies be genuinely scary.

I think it is useful to recognize that that was less a case of a bad movie and more a case of my preconceived notions about it not matching up with reality. It was I who disappointed myself as a result of unrealistic expectations. Might be a lesson in there somewhere. As for Jeepers Creepers 2, that's just a bad movie unless you compare it to Jeepers Creepers 3, in which case it is a work of art.