Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (2022)

SEPTEMBER 19, 2022


There is precisely one good thing to say about Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, and that is that the jerk who directed the first three is seemingly not involved in any way. Unless he used a pseudonym, his name does not appear anywhere on the film; in fact, despite how bad it was I stayed through all of the end credits to make sure he wasn’t even given as much as a special thanks. Instead they have the audacity to actually dedicate it to the kid he abused all those years ago (a crime for which he pled guilty and served time, something that almost seems novel in this day and age when monsters are routinely allowed to carry on without any accountability), seemingly to assure us that this was in no way anything he was connected to beyond creating the idea over 20 years ago.

But this isn’t “Part 4” (so he doesn’t even get a credit for creating the characters); as we learn early on, this is more like a Halloween III kind of deal where it exists in the world where the previous movies are just that: movies. Specifically, movies based on an urban legend that is treated like Bigfoot or the Jersey Devil, as opposed to the unknown quality he had in the others (outside of the handful of people who seemingly knew he was around and just looked the other way). In all honesty, that’s not a bad start for a “sequel”, in that it acts more like a remake of sorts and allows the new creative team to pick and choose what they like about the Creeper as we know him and chalk anything they discarded up to a fake part of the legend.

Unfortunately, they do next to nothing with this potential, burning most of it off in the Creeper’s first appearance, where he is born (whether the 23 year/23 day cycle is true here too is unclear, but let’s just assume it’s supposed to be the beginning of his latest) sort of half formed and barely able to move until he finds a victim and consumes him. I was hoping that they’d do a Hellraiser kind of deal where with each new body he got closer to being back to full strength, but nah – the one corpse (and an animal) seemed to be all he needed. So that’s disappointment #1, and I thought that they’d make up for it with his seeming target: a “Horror Hound” convention (in quotes because it’s nothing like a real HH con, despite using the branding/logo prominently) populated by a bunch of cosplaying horror fans. The idea of him hiding in plain sight, with everyone chalking him up to being a guy in costume, with the potential for a body count that would even top JC2 (the bus one), seemed to suggest a decent enough timekiller.

But nope, wrong again! The convention is quickly forgotten and we instead follow a handful of folks (our two heroes, a local guide, and a Youtube personality with her two man crew) to an isolated mansion that has supposedly been retrofitted as an escape room. And even then! I thought that might be an OK consolation prize for a concept; visions of the protagonists trying to escape the Creeper but having to solve a cipher puzzle to open the door were amusing me. But my optimism led me astray for what was thankfully the last time; the escape room element is a giant nothing burger, and at no point for the remaining 45-50 minutes did I ever think that maybe things would turn around. To be fair, even if they did stay at the convention and have him wipe everyone out the film would still be saddled with one of the least interesting hero couples in a horror movie I’ve seen in quite some time, made worse by the complete lack of chemistry between the two actors. The closest thing the movie has to a decent character is the aforementioned local guide, who is introduced as a creepy carnie type running a knife throwing game, the sort of dude you expect to be revealed to be working with the villain (think Vilmer in TCM4), but turns out to be a solid ally who is also the only one who ever manages to actually fight back against the Creeper during his intermittent attacks.

Also, having him take on dozens of people outside (it’s a convention that looks more like the bootleg parking lot booths *outside* of the convention, but whatever) would stretch the film’s clearly too-small digital FX budget, as there are shots in the film that almost qualify as the sort of thing you see in test screenings after being reminded by the director that not everything is finished. Nearly every shot of the Creeper outside looks like he’s been pasted in, Poochie returning to his home planet-style, and there are other moments I flat out laughed at because they looked so bad. My personal favorite was near the end, when some cops arrive on the scene. We see our survivor’s POV as they hear the cars approaching, but we can’t see them in the long stretch of road that’s in front of them. There’s a quick cut to their faces, where we can see the red/blue lights flashing, and then it cuts back to their POV and now there are two cop cars there, officers already out of the vehicles with guns drawn. And they too look they were added in later, but even if they looked Oscar-worthy it still wouldn’t have changed the fact that we should have seen them in the prior shot anyway.

It's also loaded with go-nowhere plot points, because (naturally) this is intended to be the start of a new trilogy and no one making movies anymore seems to understand that the reason certain films became trilogies (BTTF, Matrix, etc) is because we absolutely loved the first film and felt we got a complete experience (a reminder that BTTF’s “To be continued” thing was added later) instead of what amounted to a TV show pilot. That’s not the case here; the Creeper wants the heroine’s baby for some reason (even though she’s only a few weeks along, so I don’t know what exactly the plan was or why they needed HER specifically – was no one else in this town closer to their due date?), and there’s a group of locals who are seemingly part of a cult devoted to the Creeper – it’s all very Halloween 6-esque and even less satisfying, if you can believe it. There’s some mild voodoo stuff thrown in for whatever reason, none of it interesting or serving any real purpose, and I’m still trying to understand how the “escape room” element was supposed to work if the Creeper didn’t show up. There’s nothing in the house beyond the Creeper’s little altar (and his record player, where he plays a different old timey song named "Jeepers Creepers"), so what exactly were they going to do? Just wander around the empty house? And why didn’t the producers find his altar when they went to set up whatever it was they did?

It's part of the main problem with the film, which is that everything feels phony. There’s a long opening with Dee Wallace where we eventually learn it’s just an Unsolved Mysteries type segment that the hero is watching on his way to the convention, and yet it comes off as more legit than the “real” stuff that follows. The convention setting is a joke, their escape room is barren of any puzzles or props, people keep going off for the most bizarre reasons (why, in the middle of absolutely nowhere and worried about his shoes, does a guy trek a half mile off the road to take a piss?), the actors all seem as if they only met each other seconds before the camera was turned on, etc, etc. And yet, weirdly enough, the convention is filled with legit costumes? BOTH Pennywises are there, the Shining twins, Billy from Saw, etc. A Michael Myers even slashes someone’s throat in an effect that’s actually better than half the ones we see the Creeper commit. I’m not sure if any of this stuff was legally cleared, but I wouldn’t bet on it, especially considering that the production company has already had one lawsuit filed against it for shady business practices.

There is literally nothing about this movie that works, and it’s too dull to even count as “so bad it’s good” fare. I was truly hoping that they could at least make something mildly passable that I could embellish a bit in hopes of basically saying “They got rid of the gross guy and now the series can move on without him, and this is a good start!” or something like that, but instead it left me with the icky feeling that they were instead making his movies (none of which I love, mind you – I only really like the first half hour of the original and a few bits here and there of the sequels) look better in comparison. I truly hope this is the last we ever see of this series. I sure as hell learned my lesson once and for all.

What say you?


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