Finally getting its UK Blu-ray debut just in time for Halloween, cult horror Jeepers Creepers is certainly a film of two halves. Despite a strong opening focused on surprisingly solid character development while establishing dread through a truly intriguing and frightening early sequence, the film quickly descends into loud, cliché-ridden and bland horror that feels predictable, and now, considerably dated.
The film follows a brother and sister (Justin Long and Gina Philips) who become the targets of a demonic creature in rural Florida as they travel home from college for spring break. The first twenty minute of the film are certainly the highpoint, with the central siblings well-developed through dialogue that feels authentic. Their bickering and bantering goes on for what seems like an eternity in horror movie time (about five minutes), which is a brave way to open a film that promises a demonic creature harvesting organs. The opening to the film’s central narrative itself is also effectively handled and suspenseful, slowly whetting our appetite with the protagonists’ first sight of the mysterious villainous figure and his abandoned church hideout where he seems to be storing bodies. It is disturbing, edge-of-your-seat stuff.
Unfortunately, the film goes downhill from here consistently with each passing scene. Gradually, the characters make more and more frustrating decisions with little logic, while the scares themselves can be seen coming a mile off. Bizarre characters including a kooky local psychic (Patricia Belcher) and a crazy cat lady (Eileen Brennan) are introduced and totally underdeveloped, while the biggest issue comes in the form of the demonic Creeper himself.
Like most horror films, the frightening enigma of the villain, shown largely in silhouette until his big reveal, is altogether ruined when we see him – especially when he’s flapping his CGI wings that look like something out of a PlayStation 2 game. We simply see too much of him and he simply isn’t frightening – his design doesn’t really have character, instead looking like an unspecific Halloween costume. The characters’ development is also gradually ignored, with both leads reduced to doing nothing but gormlessly staring at various things in open-mouthed, wide-eyed fear.
The film’s over-the-top shoot-‘em-up showdown in the police station feels ripped out of a completely different film to the slow and effective opening, ending the film on a disappointing note that even the chilling final shot can’t save. And all of that is before even touching upon the controversial life of director Victor Salva that certainly taints the final product.
A typically excellent Blu-ray release from 101 Films boasts a strong transfer of the film and a healthy set of special features including a feature-length making-of documentary on a bonus DVD disc. Ultimately, Jeepers Creepers is a bland, dated horror film that doesn’t hold up in 2020, but fans will be delighted with this solid Blu-ray release.