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JEEPERS CREEPERS, 2001
Movie Reviews!

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JEEPERS CREEPERS, MOVIE POSTERJEEPERS CREEPERS, 2001
Movie Reviews

Directed by Victor Salva
Starring Justin Long, Gina Philips, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher, Eileen Brennan, Brandon Smith
Review by Andrew Kosarko


SYNOPSIS:

A brother and sister on spring break from college decide to take the scenic route home--an endless, desolate stretch of road through central Florida. Along the way they are run off the road by a strange truck, and later they see its driver disposing of what looks like a human body down a drainpipe near an old church. Derry (Justin Long) convinces his older sister, Trish (Gina Phillips), that they have to investigate, and despite all better judgment, they do.

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REVIEW:

This is most defiantly a great modern day throw back to the Universal Monsters of the cinema past. Justin Long and Gina Philips give wonderful believable performances that convince you theyíre not as idiotic as their actions. That is a powerful acting job because in order to keep the film moving and stay a horror film, you need to follow some of the age old clichťs. Itís only when the film gets midway thru that it changes itís mind as to what it would like to be.

The Story: Itís wonderfully structured in the pacing sense. Thereís no rushing going on and Salva lets the story unfold by the characters actions instead of driving to some ďgreat sceneĒ that is unjustified. By doing this, even with itís shortcomings, the film reaches an emotional climax where youíre rooting for a character to survive unscathed. Something hard to find in modern horror = characters you actually care about. The only major problem with the film comes from the u-turn characterization of the Creeper. At first heís some physco with an old truck, possibly a cannibal. Then, heís a mysterious serial murderer who stores dead bodies in the basement of a church. Then heís a possible cannibal again. Then heís a decaying body, almost like a demon possessed zombie. Then heís a giant monster with bat like wings. Iím all for a mysterious entity that we donít know much about and are only giving the audience tidbits of what he could be and letting them draw their own conclusions on him. The problem here is, there is no way to distinguish this character of the Creeper as one simple thing. Heís part human, part murderer, part cannibal, part corpse, part monster. Itís just overly complex when itís really simplistic things that scare audiences the most. If you catch the movie Ĺ way thru, it works. If you stop Ĺ way through it works. But if you watch from start to finish you find yourself scratching your head at the contradictory aspects of the monster.

Acting: Justin Long really breaks out in the ďeverymanĒ role. Heís a good guy with a solid head on his shoulders, but a deep seeded passion to be a hero. And he gets to fulfill that passion at the cost of every hero Ė sacrifice. Luckily, the only thing he has to sacrifice is himself. Heís believable and funny and brings a lot of charisma to the role and really makes us care about his character. Gina Philips also does a tremendous acting job as the ďstingy cynical older sisterĒ without coming off as annoying or hateful. Her on screen chemistry with Long as brother and sister works great.

Directing: Victor Salva knows what he wanted to do and didnít know what he wanted to do at the same time. That doesnít make sense I know. But itís the truth. He wanted to make an old school horror film that pays homage to both the Universal Monsters and the 80ís B-horror slasher flicks. And he does, but itís way too much shoved into one character. A better approach would have been creating a town full of these characters and have an ensemble of different entities that could have been chasing after the two protagonists as they passed through town. But hey, itís not my movie, itís his. For what he wanted to do, he accomplished it. The story is well told sans the above criticism and thereís solid performances all around.

Cinematography: I love it. Something hard to find these days is a horror film shot on 35mm in 2:35:1. I know thatís a head scratchier, but itís true. Horror films are made for dirt cheap and there is little exceptionÖexcept here. The colors are never over stylized and while itís obvious some things were darkened in post, the lighting used in the scenes is effective and consistent. A well done job in my opinion.

Production Design: Old school at some points and new school at some points. It works consistently throughout the film and I love the design of the creeper. Monster suits kick the crap over CGI any day of the week.

Editing: The storyís pace is well done, but I do feel the pacing scene by scene was a little slow. But overall it works because if it had been faster then it would have further hindered the over complexity of the Creeper and people would not be as tolerant as they already are. So the fault really falls on the story of it and not the editor.

Score: Very creepy. Itís effective. This is one of the few horror scores that doesnít just try to be scary, but, as the title implies, creepy. It has an excitement factor to it when it needs to and that really lends itself to the emotional advances in the storytelling.

Special Effects: Again, effective. The CGI is only used when needed, and that works best at a distance. The shots of the creeper flying around are the perfect time to use it. And the rest of the time thereís a guy in a monster suit and make up. Thatís how you juggle CGI effectively in my opinion.

In closing: Jeepers Creepers is not the perfect homage to horror films that it tries to be. Itís tries too hard to juggle to many nods in the end. But if youíre a horror fan and can look at it for what it is and enjoy two halves of the movie with the same characters being different things then itíll be alright. If youíre looking for the straight up monster incarnation, and the better film, look to the sequel. Itís one of the better horror sequels of all time in my opinion. But this movie broke barriers in itís approaches and yes, you should applaud the attempt without the complete success.

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