Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Twenty-three years ago, we were all worried about Y2K. That is a reasonably long interval of time to pass between sequels or prequels, but supposedly the Creeper only wakes every twenty-three years for his twenty-three day killing sprees, before going back into his uncanny hibernation. Perhaps this is why the latest Creeper film is vaguely presented as some sort of re-something. It also maybe partly refers to the ouster of the franchise’s controversial creator Victor Slava, who had no involvement with the picture. Once again, the risen Creeper is hunting for body parts to consume in Timo Vuorensola’s Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, which screens again tonight and tomorrow via Fathom Events.


It starts with an internet re-telling of the Creeper urban legend that closely evokes some of the events of the original film. Poor Laine has heard it all before. She has a responsible job, but her boyfriend Chase is the kind of horror fan who is into this kind of thing. Believe me fellow horror fans, we have to appreciate our partners’ patience—I certainly do. Laine’s patience will definitely be tested at the Creeper themed horror convention he has dragged her to, way out in Louisiana bayou country.

To make things more awkward, Lady Manilla, the proprietress of the local voodoo store, shows an uncomfortable interest in Laine. In fact, she seems to know the woman is pregnant, even before Laine takes the test. That is probably why Lady Manilla arranges for Chase to win a trip to an escape room at the old Creeper House accompanied by an obnoxious internet film crew. Creeping ensues.

Maybe the best part of the film is the prologue featuring genre favorites Dee Wallace (
Cujo, Critters, The Howling) and Gary Graham (Alien Nation) as the somewhat older couple, who are run-off the road by the Creeper’s Creeper-mobile. It is a clever way to encapsulate the lore for fresh viewers. Eventually, Reborn turns into the Jeepers version of Rosemary’s Baby, which screenwriter Sean-Michael Argo never fully explains and Vuorensola cannot manage to fully pull-off, but at least it’s a new angle.

However, the return to the Louisiana swamp land (shot in Europe) really works. The gothic trappings are cool and the old familiar design of the Creeper’s armored truck still looks like something from a Tim Burton movie. It is also refreshing to see Laine, Chase, and the surviving film crew actually make a plan to fight back against the Creeper. Sure, the mythos says he cannot be killed, but he’s looking older and haggard, so why not go down swinging? That way viewers get some legit suspense, in contrast to depressing horror movies like
Funhouse, where everyone just sits around waiting to die.



Many
Creeper fans might be distressed to learn Jonathan Breck did not return as the Creeper, but he is not a flamboyant bogeyman in the Freddy Krueger tradition, so for most of us, Jarreau Benjamin fills out his leather coat and hat just fine. Sydney Craven and Imran Adams are surprisingly easy to root for as Laine and Chae, while Ocean Navarro gets some laughs as the film crew’s air-headed host. Georgia Goodman chews the scenery nicely as Lady Manilla, but Vuorensola never fully capitalizes on her character’s potential.

Reborn
is a good entry point into the series, which was probably the goal for the series post-Salva. It will not shock or amaze, but it definitely gets down to Creeper business. It is true to the original concept, without trying to be elevated-anything. Recommended for fans of meat-and-potatoes horror, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn screens again nationwide tonight (9/20) and tomorrow night (9/21) at participating Fathom Events theaters.