Thursday, October 6, 2005

Jeepers Creepers (2001)

The first 45 or so minutes of Jeepers Creepers builds palpable dread: students Trish and Darry are headed home for college break, take a detour through the country. Tsk tsk, this is a horror movie. They are nearly forced off the road by a sinister cattle truck, which they later spot parked beside a dilapidated church, complete with a weird, hulking figure dragging bloody sheet-wrapped bodies out of said truck and chucking them down a large nearby drainpipe. The figure spots them back, and the chase is on.

These early moments recall Lovecraft's ominous backwoods settings, a la "The Picture in the House" -- the crumbling church; the nasty sepulchral lair; the still-living victims suffering with gory, oversized stitching across their chests; the diabolical winged monster; the local citizens who disdain/ignore the crazed story of the young couple even when the diabolical winged monster flaps down right in front of them. That might be part of the problem, actually: as long as it sticks to the shadows -- perversely sniffing at victims before deciding where to take a bite -- the Creeper is a sinister, unnerving slice of evil. But out in the open, stomping on a police car, looks more like some clumsy beer-bellied cosplay hybrid of the Mothman and the Jersey Devil. Meanwhile, all the surrounding eldritch story elements never get a chance to cohere, because still more elements, meant to escalate the Weird and Horrifying Quotient, keep piling on until the viewer is simply left with questions like: But if the Creeper can fly, why does it drive a truck?

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