Jeepers Creepers is one of the most effective, fresh, creepy horror films to come along in the past few years, and I enjoyed it immensely. You may find some of the elements from this film elsewhere, but Jeepers Creepers really does have its own unique story to tell. The plot breaks down a little bit in the final half hour, but everything up to that point is simply superb.
I love the opening scenes; this really doesn't even seem like a movie for the first half hour. You have a very typical brother and sister cruising down a deserted road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the day. I entered this film with dark aspirations in mind, so the bright, peaceful setting of the opening really grabbed my attention. It may be a lonely stretch of road, but the setting is one of safety and serenity – until, that is, a character in a super-charged old van tries to wreck the car holding our protagonists. For Patricia and Darius Jenner (Gina Philips and Justin Long, respectively), this frightening bit of road rage proves to be only the start of a horrible night. On down the road, the pair catch sight of the evil van parked beside an old, crumbling building; looking closer, they see the driver of the truck tossing a couple of items that certainly look like bodies wrapped in blood-soaked sheets down a big pipe. The bad guy sees the kids pass by and immediately starts out in pursuit, doing all he can to wreck them. Darius eventually has the brilliant idea of going back to the pipe to see if anyone is still alive down there, and his much smarter sister cannot talk him out of this notion. Here marks the upping of the creepiness factor. There are many significant things to be found in the chamber below; finding a way out, though proves to be a challenge as Darius soon discovers. Eventually a shell-shocked Darius and Trish make it to a roadside restaurant and call the police. Things get weirder, though, when an anonymous stranger calls Darius and Trish and explains the things she has been seeing in her visions, warning them that the "thing" will not stop coming after them. This proves to be quite the understatement. The Creeper, whoever or whatever he is, is relentless in his pursuit of the scared youngsters, leading to one exciting confrontation after another in a variety of venues. Things progress quite nicely to an ending that is both good and bad; good in the sense that it does not pull a fairy tale ending out of the hat, but bad in that the final five minutes prove anticlimactic, forced, and generally unsatisfying.
Personally, I have to say I wasn’t that impressed with the costume and special effects of the Creeper; from a distance, or coiled in shadows, he's pretty intimidating, but his visual effect on the viewer decreases as we see more of him. Writer/director Victor Salva envisioned this film as his own "monster movie," but I think that a more human boogeyman would have served this story more effectively. Justin Long has some kind of David Schwimmer thing going on at times, but he is otherwise quite convincing in the role of Darius; he is the one who sees firsthand the handiwork of the Creeper, and the effects of what he has seen are reflected dramatically on his face and spirit. Gina Philips is fantastic; she may well be the sexiest female on the planet, as well. More than just a pretty face, the depth of her commitment and talent are demonstrated quite convincingly in the six featurettes on the making of the movie. These featurettes, by the way, are quite good. The deleted and extended scenes housed on the DVD, though, aren't that impressive; for the life of me, I could hardly find the difference between the alternate and final versions of a few scenes in the movie.
Jeepers Creepers is just a terrific, vastly underrated horror film. Relying more on suspense than blood and gore (although there is a certain amount of gore to be found here), this would make an especially good introduction to the genre for those yet to dip their feet into the deep, dark side of the entertainment pool.