Jeepers Creepers


Directed by: Victor Salva
Written by:Victor Salva
Starring: Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher
Released: January 17, 2002
Grade: A-

Jeepers Creepers looks as if it’s a film school assignment shot by an amateur filmmaker.  There’s only a handful of characters (none of whom I knew prior to this film), few locations, little music and much “improvised” dialogue.  It’s an invigorating shot in the arm for the teen horror genre and this film could well be the scariest I’ll see all year.

It’s the simplicity of the story that gives it its realism.  Trish (Philips) and Darry (Long) are driving together across the country to visit their parents for the holidays.  They are passed on the road by a maniac driving a large van and only narrowly avoid him.  Further down the highway, they see the same van pulled over beside an old church and a hooded figure is dumping large sacks (similar to body bags) down a sewer pipe.

They instantly attempt to call the police but the mobile phone is out of power and the nearest pay phone is miles away (isn’t it always the way?).  After being passed on the road by the van again, Darry decides they must turn back and see what’s down that sewer pipe - someone could still be alive down there.  Accidentally falling down the pipe, Darry witnesses that which no man should see.  A basement filled with horrors previously unimaginable.

Left speechless and shaken by the ordeal, Trish and Darry head to the nearest town to alert the authorities and it is at this point where things really get creepy.  At a petrol station, they are warned by a mysterious telephone caller that when they hear the song “Jeepers Creepers”, they must run at all costs.  Already unsettled, Trish and Darry do not know what to make of it all.  Is this just some cruel joke or are their lives really in danger?

Gina Philips and Justin Long work really well off each other.  They argue like any brother and sister and their childish fights really annoyed me (which they’re supposed to).  Seeing Trish tell Danny not to go down the sewer pipe is a perfect example - she just never lets up.

The ending is very creative.  With most films, you can always tell the ending is coming up because the pieces have all been put together and you can just tell from the music and dialogue that it’s almost time to stretch the legs.  Not so in Jeepers Creepers.  The film ends rather sickly and abruptly - a pleasant surprise.

With little at risk financially, I guess director/writer Victor Salva (Powder) had the opportunity to take a few chances.  The teen slasher genre is abused and overworked and his efforts to “change the script” have worked successfully and I commend him for it.  I hope he continues his boldness in the sequel currently in development.  Sequels - they’re inevitable, aren’t they?