Released in select theaters nationwide and On Demand Tuesday, October 4, 2022 through Screen Media, Jeepers Creepers Reborn is a modernized take on 2001’s original film, Jeepers Creepers.
Directed by Timo Vuorensola (Iron Sky 2012, Iron Sky: The Coming Race 2019) and written by Sean-Michael Argo (Sineaters 2012, Cleric 2014), this film is an attempt to pay homage to Horror classics. Vuorensola wanted to couple the act of being hunted by a mythical creature with modern-day psychological Horror influences, aiming to find the balance between the two to create a more thrilling experience. While the film does contain obvious nods to the impact these classics have on the Horror community, Jeepers Creepers Reborn is a disappointing addition to a franchise that was already on the decline.
The film opens with an older couple, played by Dee Wallace (The Howling 1981, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982) and Gary Graham (Alien Nation series, JAG series) , as they travel down a desolate road in the middle of rural Louisiana. The couple is soon stalked by a familiar truck with the infamous “BEATINGU” license plate, and fall victim to The Creeper, in a similar fashion to the original film’s opening. The screen zooms out, its revealed to be a retelling from a YouTube video and we meet the film’s actual protagonists. Laine (Sydney Craven: Wolfblood series, EastEnders series) and her boyfriend Chase (Imran Adams: Hollyoaks series, Wedding Season series) are headed to the HorrorHound Festival in Louisiana.
With this, the lore behind Jeepers Creepers has become a legend in the same vein as Mothman or any other local boogeyman that’s been twisted and told a thousand times. Chase, being a Horror fanatic and obsessed with The Creeper lore, convinced Laine to tag along on this road trip. It’s clear there’s some underlying issues between the two, and if Laine running off to vomit by a tree wasn’t obvious enough, she’s pregnant and hasn’t told Chase yet. Oh, and let’s not forget the ominous visions that have been plaguing her every moment that she’s been keeping to herself. Surely, that’s not going to come into play at any point.
Dressed up in her Jennifer’s Body costume, Laine and Chase head to the festival and somewhere between the hoard of killer clown costumes, questionable locals and festival games, they win the chance to explore a Creeper-themed escape room and thus begins the start of the bloody, poorly edited nightmare that follows. While some effects can easily be overlooked, the film’s use of green screen is distractingly obvious, but even that isn’t enough to distract from some of the cringy lines these characters spout (“How’d you like those peepers?” immediately comes to mind).
The film’s use of an escape room as the main setting for the remainder of the film resulted in a dizzying game of cat and mouse with little payoff. The Creeper, played by Jarreau Benjamin (Top Boy series, Righteous Villains 2020), offers little to be desired despite being the titular villain of the film. The filmmaker’s efforts in reverse engineering and designing a version of The Creeper that fits their vision is overshadowed by the film’s lack of real threat from The Creeper itself. That, along with its addition of random filler scenes, rendered The Creeper’s performance silly and unnecessary. It’s also responsible for why this film with an 87-minute runtime felt like it was hours long as it drags viewers along through its underwhelming climax and conclusion.
Reviving this franchise was already a difficult venture thanks to the stain left by the original Director Victor Salva and his history of abuse; especially when you consider The Creeper’s uncomfortable undertones so fans were anticipating its fresh start. That in mind, Jeepers Creepers Reborn is overly ambitious, relying on nostalgia to carry it, but ultimately succumbing to its own shortcomings. A plot that goes nowhere, cringy dialogue, and aesthetic issues that are more prevalent than the film’s main antagonist. Unfortunately, even by “it’s so bad, it’s good” standards, Jeepers Creepers Reborn falls short. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this film 2 out of 5 stars.