The first two “Jeepers Creepers” movies are vastly underrated classics, in my opinion — they’re well scripted and boast a truly original and frightening bogeyman. The third, regrettably, struggles to retain even a B movie charm. It’s a substandard horror film that I’d only grudgingly rate a 4 out of 10.
“Jeepers Creepers 3” (2017) is cloddishly written and awkwardly filmed. The film also suffers from action sequences that are absolutely cartoonish. A lot of this stems from the titular Creeper’s antique vehicle, which is now inexplicably depicted as being … conscious? Possessed by the Creeper? It drives itself, deflects bullets, launches projectiles, and contains booby traps that defy physics. This leads to some Wile E. Coyote-style fight scenes with the story’s various protagonists, in which the saddest victim is the franchise’s credibility.
About those protagonists — there are far too many to examine with any real success; the two ostensible teenage main characters fall a bit flat. There are so many characters that have backstories connected with the Creeper (and his signature, decades-hopping supernatural murder sprees) that the film simply becomes confusing. And that confusion is made worse by this film’s chronology with the previous movies — it takes place immediately after the first, but before the events of the second. (In all fairness, maybe the problem is me … I am being quite honest when I write here that I just do not follow movies as well as other people.)
With all of this exposition, though, one bit of lore is egregiously omitted – contrary to some of the movie’s advance press, we learn nothing about the creature’s origins. And this is extremely odd, because a bunch of characters do. There is a befuddling central plot point where the good guys methodically gain knowledge of their otherworldly foe by … touching one of its severed body parts. But we, the viewers, learn nothing.
Even the makeup and special effects were inferior to the prior films.
I’m confused by all of the things I’ve written above, as “Jeepers Creepers 3” was written and directed by Victor Salva, who wrote and directed the excellent previous movies in 2001 and 2003.
I hope I’m not being too hard on the movie, because there’s still some fun to be had. Jonathan Breck still chews the scenery quite nicely as the Creeper, and the monster’s character concept still manages to please. In a horror movie market often dominated by seemingly interchangeable serial killers and undead little girls, the Creeper is a truly inventive monster — part human; part gargoyle; part body-stealing, feral Frankenstein’s monster. He’s fun to watch, particularly for horror fans who’ve grown tired of the Patrick Batemans and the various angry ghost children that endlessly haunt the zeitgeist. You could do a lot worse for a plot-driving antagonist.
And, thanks to so brutal a bad guy, there are occasional moments of tension in the movie. It’s a bit scary, for example, when he attacks a group of teenaged motorcyclists.
This isn’t enough to make recommend paying for the movie, however — even if you’re a fan of the franchise, as I am. I’d wait for “Jeepers Creepers 3” to hit Netflix or Hulu, or wait until it’s playing on SyFy again.