Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)
★ / ★★★★
It takes a special courage to allow a horror story to unfold during daylight, but “Jeepers Creepers 3,” written and directed by Victor Salva, offers nothing but one disappointment after another. Just when you think it cannot possibly get any worse, it dares to hit a new low on the very next scene, stupidity of poorly developed characters hand in hand with terrible acting that gives even the worst daytime soaps a run for their money. The worst offender, however, is the lack of craft in a genre that demands it. It reeks from a lack of imagination.
Those familiar with the series are now aware of how The Creeper (Jonathan Break) looks like and what it is capable of. And so for the sequel to be even marginally entertaining, it must introduce new dimensions to the character. It is not enough to rely on lingering shots of its monstrous face, to show its ancient wings, and to exercise its ability to wield various weapons. To the script’s credit, it introduces the idea of The Creepers hand that had fallen off twenty-three years ago (it comes out to feed every twenty-three years for twenty-three days before it goes on hibernation) having the ability to pass on its memories to those who dare to hold hands with it, but this potentially interesting avenue is not explored in any way. In fact, it is used to deliver cheap, evanescent jolts. Not once did I jump out of my seat.
The story is saddled by multiple subplots that we know must converge eventually. The problem, however, is that not one of them is interesting. The cops (Stan Shaw, Brandon Smith) yell at each other a lot—which I suppose is the actors’ attempt to establish a sense of urgency. A teenage boy (Chester Rushing) attempts to be there emotionally for his crush (Gabrielle Haugh) whose grandmother (Meg Foster) is unable to pay off their debts—which I suppose is the cute or heartwarming bit, but it is simply coma-inducing. The increasingly erratic grandmother still sees the ghost of her deceased son (Jordan Salloum) who was killed by The Creeper—which I suppose is meant to communicate the tragedy that The Creeper leaves in its wake. Every one of these is handled with a sledgehammer, leaving no room for insight or subtlety. Their deaths could not come soon enough.
Special and visual effects come across as cheap-looking. It is astounding that the effects in “Jeepers Creepers” back in 2001 are far more effective for two reasons. First, the original takes place during mid- to late afternoon till the evening and so many details are hidden in shadows. During some scenes, we are actually motivated to squint just so we can see the more grizzly details in a tunnel, an underground cavern, or an old factory. Second, first film is actually interested in building suspense. And so when stakes are high, we are invested emotionally rather than noticing whether images are practical or made using a computer. This film is plagued by unnecessarily ostentatious visual displays, like trucks being thrown around as if the material were an action film. Do not get me started on the characters’ reliance on using guns to kill the creature—which had been proven not to work time and again.
These are only some of the severe miscalculations to be found in “Jeepers Creepers 3,” a mind-numbingly bad horror picture. Not even watching it during a stormy night with all the lights off and excellent surround sound could turn this mess into anything remotely salvageable. Avoid it at all cost.
Dark House (2014)
★ / ★★★★
Nick (Luke Kleintank) visits his mother (Lesley-Anne Down) at the mental hospital during his twenty-third birthday, but a nice time between them is not on the agenda. Nick has a strange ability: by merely touching a person with his hands, he is able to foresee how he or she is going to die. An exception: the death must be especially gruesome or else he will not see a thing. It appears as though Lilian has been talking to something in the walls again.
“Dark House,” written by Charles Agron and Victor Salva, is a convoluted grab bag of horror offerings. At one point or another, it hopes to be a supernatural thriller, a creature-feature picture, or a slasher flick. What results is a project that moves forward but sans identity—the characters speak but the words carry no substance, thrown into danger but the situations hold no genuine suspense, and die with very little impact.
Agron and Salva never figured out a way to circumvent the innate problem in their main character’s psychic gift. By allowing us to see what he sees, accompanied by a line where Nick claims that his visions occur without fail, we know exactly who is going to live or die—and how. When the inevitable chase scenes take place, they offer no thrill because we already know who will die and under what circumstance.
There are interesting elements dispersed throughout the picture but they are not enough to save the entire work. For instance, I found the tall, long-haired figures that chase their targets as if they have a spine disorder—but are able to throw an axe, their weapon of choice, extremely well—to be somewhat menacing. Also, I liked the history behind the house that has been washed in a great flood. It refers to the story of Noah and the Bible which connects to some of the explanations provided during the latter half. If only the writers have developed their screenplay in such a way that would have connected religion, possible supernatural elements, and the insanity of what is going on. Bill Paxton’s “Frailty” is an excellent example of a picture that this film wanted to be.
Further, it lacks convincing relationships so it is a challenge to relate with any of the characters. Nick and Eve (Alex McKenna) feel nothing but a plot contrivance. Kleintank and McKenna have little to no chemistry. When she tries to console him during his seizure-like episodes, I saw her as a sister-like figure rather than a girlfriend. At one point—and I was so amused—I suspected that Nick and his roommate, Ryan (Anthony Rey Perez), were some sort of secret lovers because Perez and Kleintank actually have chemistry. They have one scene where Nick catches Ryan “smelling like sex.” Ryan picks up a stench of jealousy.
Nothing exciting happens in “Dark House,” directed by Victor Salva, other than people running in the woods, to the dilapidated house, and then back outside again. It is repetitive, it tests the patience, and is not very creative. Thus, it is not fun to watch since the filmmakers fail to inject something special in tracks we all have traveled a thousand times before.