Thursday, April 22, 2004

Jeepers Creepers

“Jeepers Creepers” , the 2001 teen horror, starts out simply enough, a brother and sister are driving home from college along a state-long stretch of deserted road. As the two kids slowly, painfully slowly, set up the story, an urban legend about two prom goers who were killed on that same road back in ’78 comes up. Oh, and the chick’s head was never found. Three hours later, as they are still driving along the deserted road and are still setting up the story, something actually happens. An old nineteen-fifties dark pick-up with a cattle catcher mounted on the front and vanity plates reading “BEATINGU” (be eating you) appears behind them, driving erratically at high speed. The truck repeatedly rams the back of their car as they try to let it pass. It finally passes and further down the road they see the same truck parked beside an abandoned church. A large figure draped in dark dingy clothing and a wide brimmed hat pulls a body shaped object wrapped in a sheet out of the back of the truck and throws it down a large pipe sticking out of the ground. The two kids blatantly stare as the dark figure blatantly stares back. Six hours later, the same truck appears behind them, terrorizes them again, and passes. So, of course they decide the best plan of action is to turn, go back to the church and see what he threw down the pipe. The boy falls down the pipe, discovers that he is in the basement of the church which is plastered with dead bodies up to the ceiling, and escapes just as the bad guy returns.
For the next eight hours of the movie, they are chased by the evil thing, constantly finding reasons to get out of the car and turn the engine off, despite the fact that they are continually having trouble starting the car and perhaps leaving it running while they examine decapitated police officers and just eating the cost of the gas might be the best plan of action. They run into a psychic who has already seen all this in her dreams, and all though she can’t offer them the advice of letting the car run when they get out, she does give them some vague explanation about how the creature following them is some sort of demon that has to eat specific parts of specific people for some reason or other. The song “Jeepers Creepers” is played a couple of times for some unknown reason, everyone they come into contact with dies, they find that there is no way to kill the demon, and they all live happily ever after (except all the people who died). The end.
With all the plot holes, story line inconsistencies and vagueness, and the poorly developed antagonists and protagonist, the biggest question I am left with after viewing this film is, why the vanity license plates? Was the demon not getting the results he wanted and thought they might add that certain panache to his killing spree? Perhaps the truck was a 16th birthday present from his parents and his mom thought the personalized plates would be a “cute” touch? Did he have to go to the DMV, wait on line and then pay the excessive costs for vanity plates? Or, being that he is a supernatural demon did he just conjure them up himself? And if he has those kinds of powers, was “BEATINGU” really the best he could come up with? How about “EAT U L8R” or “I CHU M” or something as simple and classic as “DMON LUVR” ?
With problems of this proportion in the script, I think it’s a lot for the filmmaker to ask us to suspend our disbelief. No wonder the film failed to frighten me in its intended way.

* Note: "Jeepers Creepers II" coming soon (eventually)