Oddly enough it wasn’t until recently that I first saw this film. It somehow slipped through my teenage horror radar and I missed it upon first release. After Wes Craven rebooted the horror / slasher genre with 1996’s Scream, there was a brief window of Scream-esque releases around the late 1990’s / early 2000’s. Before the mid 00’s “torture porn” boon happened, kicked off by films like Saw and Hostel, there was a spate of films released that shared a lot of the same cinematic DNA. Very “tongue-in-cheek” slasher movies such as I Know what You Did Last Summer (1997), Urban Legend (1998), Cherry Falls (2000), Final Destination (2000), Valentine (2001) and Wrong Turn (2003) etc. Alongside the Scream tributes were reboots of a number of classic horror series, revamped to be in-keeping with the current slasher trends: Bride of Chucky (1998), Jason X (2001), Halloween: H20 (1998) and Freddy Vs Jason (2003) etc.
This is perhaps why I never saw Jeepers Creepers until recently. Having missed it upon it’s initial release, and having seen all of the above mentioned movies. I always assumed it was just in the same vein. And back in the day, I’d watched those things to death (pun obviously intended). Perfectly enjoyable, but very much “of their time” and nothing to get too overly excited about.
Despite the novelty title. The lukewarm to poor reviews from audiences and critics. The uninspiring poster. The expired by 16 years sell-by date and the fact that there’s about 50 other films I need to catch up on from last year alone. Despite all of this. I thought it was brilliant.
Firstly, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched one of these kind of late 90s / early 00’s horrors and the nostalgia was delightful and instantaneous.
Secondly, I find Justin Long very watchable, and alongside his comedy work he’s managed to integrate himself into the “tongue-in-cheek” horror genre, with great performances in After.Life, Drag Me to Hell, Tusk and Yoga Hosers.
But most of all, it’s just an excellent watch. At 90 minutes (perfect B-movie length) it romps along thunderously. I found the narrative genuinely intriguing and the characters genuinely interesting. The horrific bits were executed brilliantly, and what makes it stand out among all of the films I mentioned earlier, is that it’s a little bit more adventurous. It’s set up as one kind of film, and then it turns into something else completely, and it resolves as something completely different from that. It’s kind of like a crescendo of mystery and horror and builds into something that is unlike any of it’s sister films of the time.
If you haven’t seen the film, it really is best to go in, like I did, with no prior knowledge of the story. It’s rather bizarre that I should stumble across the film this year, as without realising, a third installment of the series is due for release in 2017. Fourteen years after Jeepers Creepers 2. Very strange.