Jeepers Creepers (Victor Salva, 2001)
[originally posted 26Feb2002]
I think that, with the arguable exception of Battlefield Earth, I haven’t heard so much negative press about a movie in the past decade as I did about this one. No idea why. This is one of the better horror movies to come out of Hollywood in quite a while, and Victor Salva has finally lived up to the promise that’s kept Hollywood allowing him to make bad movies on a fairly regular basis for the past decade and a half.
The story opens with a brother and sister team, Derry (Justin Long, from the TV series Ed) and Trish (Gina Phillips, who recently had a turn on Boston Public and shows up next year in The Anarchist’s Cookbook), driving across the state on their way home from college for spring break. On a secluded stretch of highway, a strange truck menaces them before roaring past. A few miles down the road, they see the truck’s driver dumping something that looks suspiciously like a body wrapped in a sheet down a large pipe, and after he drives away they stop to investigate. Complications ensue.
The movie’s probably not going to win any awards for its acting, writing, or cinematography, all of which fall into the slightly-above-average category. But then, this isn’t a movie with Oscar aspirations anyway. It’s supposed to be a fast-paced slick little horror film, and that’s what it is. Salva achieves the right balance between showing the nastiness and cutting away to let suggestion do the work, and also uses the suggestion technique with his bad guy most of the time (something that hasn’t been seen too much in films for a while). Add in a Miss Cleo-esque psychic (Patricia Belcher), a few hick cops who actually break stereotype a few times, and a fun bad guy (Jonathan Breck, from the painfully bad film Spiders), and you’ve got a fine little flick. *** ½