Hold onto your spleens, because Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (now available on Hulu, as well as VOD streaming services like Amazon Prime Video) OFFICIALLY REBOOTS a three-movie horror franchise that you thought already had six feet of dirt and a healthy layer of sod on it. Nope! Sorry! But if you thought horror reboots couldn’t get any more inconsequential, this one is here to prove you wrong, although Amityville Vibrator might give it a run for its money.
JEEPERS CREEPERS: REBORN: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: In an extended opening sequence that barely has a damn thing to do with the rest of the movie, Dee Wallace and Gary Graham play an ol’-fert couple pootering around in their vintage station wagon. It may be vintage because the scene is set roughly during the year of its make, but who knows for sure, because this movie doesn’t care and pretty much insists that you shouldn’t either. Anyway, they’re road-raged by a man in a big truck – which if I’m not mistaken is a ’43 Chevy Harasser – because they spotted that man disposing of what appeared to be a corpse. That man, in his fedora and duster, is almost surely the Creeper (Jarreau Benjamin), who emerges every 23 years to wreak havoc for 23 days, and his specific form of havoc is, usually, killin’ folks and eatin’ parts of ’em. So let’s do some math: Assuming the primary plot of this movie occurs in the current year of our lord, this cute elderly couple exists in either 1953 or 1976 but definitely not 1999, and my nickel’s on the bicentennial. The couple adheres to classic horror-movie requisites by making deeply ignorant anti-logical decisions. A couple things are established here: one, the Creeper’s battered and ugly domicile, to be seen again later, and two, the producers’ ability to pull a couple of cult-favorite actors for a day’s work.
Jump to the present day, either 46 or 69 (hey now) years later. Laine (Sydney Craven) and her boyfriend Chase (Imran Adams) are on their way to the Horror Hound festival, somewhere off the beaten track, in Louisiana I think, because the tax credits for filmmakers are excellent there. Chase believes in all kinds of urban-legend bullcrap like the Creeper, and Laine is a skeptic: “Your precious science doesn’t have all the answers!” he crows, and she retorts, “Conspiracy theories have no answers.” But hey, opposites attract, and she’s carrying his baby although he doesn’t know it yet, and he’s carrying an engagement ring although she doesn’t know it yet. And what, pray tell, do pregnant women in movies do? They barf. And while she’s barfing roadside, her friend with flood pants and a vintage Corvette calls her just before he goes out to the woods to pee and be murdered. This occurs in a scene prior to the scene in which the Creeper crawls out of his hole, reborn. So who killed Flood Pants Friend? YOUR PRECIOUS SCIENCE DOESN’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, you fool!
But this isn’t the only scene that goes utterly nowhere, my friends. There’s one in a voodoo shop and one in which Laine tries on all her sexy cosplay outfits (slutty Freddy Krueger, slutty Edward Scissorhands, Harley Quinn) for Chase and then we don’t get to see them have sex. Welcome to horror movies in 2022! Our dirt-boring protagonists finally make it to the festival just as the Creeper gets to creeping, although he’s more into murdering than creeping, but “murderer” doesn’t rhyme with “jeeper.” One of the first things the Creeper does is take out the local cell tower, but how would he even possess the knowledge to do that, having been aslumber since 1999? Maybe he looked it up on the internet, although he still uses an antique gramophone to play “Jeepers Creepers” on vinyl, which suggests he’s a luddite; perhaps he learned to connect to AOL via dial-up during his previous 23-day murder jamboree? My precious science is failing me.
Anyway, Laine and Chase end up winning a jaunt through an escape room, which of course means they end up at the Creeper’s house with a surly redneck, a condescending jerk and a panicky shrieking woman, all fighting for their pathetic lives. Did I mention that Laine has been having secret premonitions or visions or dreams or whatever about the Creeper? No? Perhaps because they make no sense whatsoever on their own or in the greater context of the plot, other than to set her up as the heroine. Good for her, being the heroine of this movie, it’s surely a lot like being the queen of the garbage dump.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: I dunno. Shoulda rebooted Leprechaun.
Performance Worth Watching: Is this a good time to remember how quietly great Dee Wallace was as the mom in E.T.? As good a time as any, I guess.
Memorable Dialogue: Laine, walking through Horror Hound, makes an observation that could be a halfway-funny premise for the film if it wasn’t interested in being as dull as possible: “What if there’s a psycho lurking in the crowd? How would anyone know?”
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: All seven of you worried about how Jeepers Creepers: Reborn fits into the franchise, well, let it be known that it stands alone as its own piece of crap. It’s witless, humorless and senseless, bereft of decent scares, decent characters or a decent set piece. Director Timo Vuorensola must’ve saved entire rolls of dimes and quarters by foregoing practical sets for bottom-rung green-screen CGI. As for the Creeper himself, well, he strikes an imposing figure and sports an impressive set of gleaming-white pearly-polished and very pointy choppers, but his kills lack the inventiveness necessary to set him apart. Hack, slice, bite, yawn. He’s a Dollar Tree slasher, unfit to schlep Freddy Krueger’s sweater to the cleaners.
That’s not the Creeper’s fault – he puppeteered by filmmakers content to scrape by on a screenplay hastily cobbled together with leftover bits from other slasher flicks. Will one of the Creeper’s victims happen to be standing in just the right spot so when his arm crashes through the wall, he can grab her? How did he know where she was? Can he see through solid matter? If the characters seek a lost friend inside the Creeper’s house, what should they do? Sit tight and wait for her to crash through the ceiling, of course. My precious science is having a very bad day.
But, a desperate straw-man defender of this movie might say, the Creeper is supernatural. That means he can do crazy stuff! Uh huh. Craven is asked to deliver the least convincing Occam’s-razor spiel, to my knowledge, in the history of film. See, Laine’s putting up a skeptical front because she deems it an intellectually superior viewpoint to Chase’s belief in supernatural woo-woo. Of course, she’s nagged by the weird visions of the Creeper and some human minions participating in some type of blood ritual – and we therefore got ourselves some real heavy-duty inner conflict. She’s the person of logic and reason forced to become a True Believer when faced with the reality of the Creeper. (No spoilers as to whether she survives to admit her conversion to zealotry.) See, look, I found some subtext in a movie that’s barely written. But it took way more work than it’s worth. Rremember, just because a movie has subtext doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck hog nads.
Our Call: SKIP IT. Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is the fresh new face of dreck!
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.
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