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.