Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jeepers Creepers

If this is the direction that the teen-horror cycle is headed, then more power to it. Gone is the paint-by-numbers "guess who's the killer" formula, replete with some lame-assed dirge about how they were done wrong some years ago. We've heard that one too many times. Also gone is the line-up of fresh-faced teens playing secondary (read: victim) characters; most of the mayhem is dispensed upon older folk, or any other authority figures who try to take matters into their own hands. Justin Long and Gina Phillips as Darry and Trish The title Jeepers Creepers refers to the old 1930's song of the same name; the true implications of its lyrics become horrifyingly apparent at the conclusion of the film. In the meantime, the film opens with two siblings driving home in a rickety old car for spring break. Gina Philips portrays tight-assed Trish, while Justin Long (Galaxy Quest ) is her narcissistic but ultimately good-hearted brother Darry. While driving a lonely one-lane highway, Trish and Darry banter like normal college-aged siblings do. Then they are beset upon by a maniacal truck driver, whose vehicle looks like a Nazi prisoner vessel. The driver honks the screeching horn continuously.
One Trish and Darry manage to ditch the madman, they try to return to normal cross-country conversation, until they pass an old and abandoned church, where the offending truck just happens to be parked. And the driver just happens to be emptying something that looks a lot like a dead body down an old pipe behind the building. Patricia Belcher as Jezelle The wise thing to do, horror audiences know, would be to quickly get thine arse out of there. Trish and Darry do neither, which only sets the demonic adversary on their tail. And once their life-or-death flight puts them in touch with a local psychic named Jezelle (Patricia Belcher), they realize that they're dealing with a force that's neither man nor animal. Indeed, the Creeper (Jonathan Breck) is an all-new entity. A fun guest appearance by Eileen Brennan livens things up, as her Cat Lady character offers some comic relief, right before the Creeper disrupts even that. An uneven and wonderfully diabolical conclusion awaits the viewer here, and it's doubtful if the Scream crowd will be onboard with it. Still, it elevates the film above the typical teen stalker, and some above-average performances (particularly from Phillips) heighten the stakes. Jonathan Breck as The Creeper Jeepers Creepers is a fun throwback to the sinister creature features of yester-year. The dialogue is snappy and makes Trish and Darry convincing as a brother/sister duo. The Creeper is a supernaturally-powered villain whose motivation is purely chilling. And while the film may be geared towards latter-day teen audiences, the ending is decidedly not. But old school fans will eat it pun intended.

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