Jeepers Creepers Reborn - New Release Review
Director: Timo Vuorensola
Starring: Sydney Craven, Imran Adams, Ocean Navarro, Peter Brooke, Jarreau Benjamin
Written by: Sean-Michael Argo
Produced by: Jake Seal, Michael Ohoven
Cinematography by: Simon Rowling
Original Score by: Ian Livingstone
Forced to travel with her boyfriend, Laine begins to experience premonitions associated with the urban myth of The Creeper. She believes that something supernatural has been summoned - and that she is at the center of it all.
It's safe to say that although it is beloved by many horror fans, the 'Jeepers Creepers' franchise is extremely problematic, so I was somewhat hesitant to give this new film any attention whatsoever, even with a new director and production team on board. But the trailer had me intrigued. Unfortunately I wish I had stuck with my gut feeling because 'Jeepers Creepers: Reborn' is just so messy and adds little to nothing to the franchise at all.
The first glaringly obvious negative about the film is that in the opening scene (which actually turns out to be an online video homaging the original film and starring the wonderful Dee Wallace) introduces the Creeper and his infamous truck with absolutely zero build up. It's almost a copy and paste from Darry and Trish's initial experience with the Creeper in the first film and works as a re-enactment of sorts of those events. Its part of a series called Macabre Mysteries which our leading man Chase (Imran Adams) is a huge fan of. Chase insinuates that the Original Trilogy of films exist within this universe and are based on the legend of the Creeper, that still haunts this area of Louisiana. It feels like it's trying to be meta but other than mentioning the Creeper as a myth a few times later on, the film never really doubles down on the meta angle. Not even the magnificent Dee Wallace can save this. Even though this opening scene isn't technically part of the film and the Creeper isn't the real Creeper (or is it? Who knows), it absolutely took me out of it straight away and the film was fighting an uphill battle from here onwards.
We're then introduced to our two leads, Chase and Laine (Sydney Craven) a couple who are on their way, much to the reluctance of Laine, to a horror festival called Horror Hound. Only this particular horror festival is basically just a carnival in a field with about 50 attendees and despite Chase's over-exuberance at literally everything he sees, Laine clearly has no desire to be here. There's not much to like about these two new characters either. They're just sort of there for the purpose of the story and much of their interactions are bland. Chase is planning on proposing to Laine, who is secretly pregnant with his child. There's an unnecessary subplot involving premonitions that Laine experiences that are never explained or even referenced to in any detail other than that maybe the Creeper wants her baby. It's extremely vague and rushed.
There's a scene early on where we see the "rebirth" of the Creeper that just comes out of nowhere and feels totally pointless because, again, there is no build up to it and it also felt insanely rushed. That is a recurring theme throughout the entire film. This scene could've been a cool visual if addressed correctly with time and love but it really did feel like an afterthought.
Chase and Laine are revealed to be the winners in the Creeper Draw, a blind competition that allows two people to enter the Creeper Escape Room, which is situated a short drive from the location of the festival. At this point I had no idea who was running the show or what was happening but at least we are now heading to some sort of destination where the film might be able to move forward coherently. Chase and Laine are then trapped inside the escape room, which is revealed to be some sort of haunted house (I think) and they are also joined by a few others involved with the festival. Just before they enter the house we get a number of kills that are deeply unsatisfying and we also get our first look at some dodgy green screens filtered with what I believe to be generic "haunted" stock images. Its pretty awful looking to be honest. The Creeper swoops down and captures Laine, which forces the rest of the group to eventually enter the house. It is then revealed that this was all the plan of a clan of cultists who are feeding the group to the Creeper.
At this point I was still prepared to remain positive about the direction of the film because at least now we have a cool set piece to work with. Our small group have now been trapped in an old, dingy house with the Creeper outside stalking them and trying to get inside to kill them. Not bad right? Think again.
While there are at least some decent moments in the house, the remainder of the film is essentially our characters running from room to room, locking the door, then escaping to another room. They try to come up with a plan but to no avail and some of them are taken out by the Creeper indefinitely. There's a decent scare with a bear trap and an interesting kill with a hatchet but once again, you know what I'm gonna say here, it all felt very rushed with no build up to the kills or to the important moments.
I know most of this was likely shot and produced during Covid so I went in anticipating low budget filmmaking and some potential short cuts, all of which are admirable and absolutely do not have any real impact on my opinion of the final product. However, its just impossible not to be swayed by the sheer amateur look of this film and the fact that almost all of the exterior scenes were clearly layered with poor CGI to the point that it became really difficult to enjoy anything that was happening on screen. It brings me no joy to be so forthrightly negative about a production that is evidently struggling and I'd love to admit that I overlooked the blatantly obvious flaws in lieu of the positives elsewhere but sadly the reality is that there were no positives elsewhere.
The acting is ropey at best. The writing is subpar and the script was likely thrown together to begin with and/or changed regularly during shooting. The characters are paper thin and cliché. The scares are ineffective. The Creeper in this one feels like the one you would get if you ordered it off Wish. He had no real screen presence and his outfit and makeup were severely lacking.
'Jeepers Creepers: Reborn' is apparently the first in a new trilogy of films and the end of this one sort of sets up the next one, but it really felt like a mammoth missed opportunity to breathe new life into a franchise and a fantastic villain which still had a chance to prosper and entertain horror fans for years to come. They couldn't even get the rights to the classic song from the original film. Or maybe they did but randomly choose to instead go with a bootleg version. Maybe this film is fates way of saying that the Creeper should just die for good and never come back ever again.
- Gavin Logan
'Jeepers Creepers: Reborn' is released in selected theatres September 24th and on Digital Download October 10th and on Bluray & DVD October 24th