Directed By: Victor Salva
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Starring: Jonathan Breck, Stan Shaw, Brandon Smith, Gabrielle Haugh
It's never fun when a sequel comes out after years of setbacks only to disappoint instead of surprise. Arriving over 14 years after Jeepers Creepers 2 was released, the long-delayed Jeepers Creepers 3 is one such film, a sequel that had every opportunity to overcome the fact it's arguably a decade too late and capitalize on the potential left open by the ending of the last film only to squander it instead.
Rather than serve as a follow-up to where its predecessor left off, with the Creeper's hibernating corpse mounted to a wall with a harpoon pointed at it overseen by Ray Wise's vigilant farmer, Jack Taggart, Jeepers Creepers 3 bafflingly turns the clock back, with the majority of its narrative set directly in the aftermath of the first film and right before the events of the second. As you may recall, the Creeper wakes up every 23 years for 23 days to conduct its reign of terror, and plot-wise there's little more you need to know if you've seen the first two films, as this is just more of the same, with another group of people caught up in the Creeper's cycle and that's about it.
To its detriment, Jeepers Creepers 3' status as an interquel robs it of any tension, as we know that the Creeper survives for the events of the second film to occur. To balance that fact out, new wrinkles to the mythology are laced into the film, including the introduction of a group of hunters made up of people who have lost loved ones to the Creeper whose goal is to destroy it, revelations about the supernatural capabilities of the Creeper's signature truck, and the suggestion that the Creeper is less a conventional monster and something far more ancient. However, despite being interesting in concept, all of it is thoroughly underwhelming in execution.
Before I can explain why, I have to emphasize that the film's biggest mistake is its constant teasing of what's to come. The film ends on a note that reintroduces a familiar face to the franchise while leaving off with the promise of the same exact film Jeepers Creepers 2 did, but considering that it took 14 years for this film to even get off the ground, who's to say when - or if - a fourth one will ever materialize. Everyone involved here seems to be certain that the future of the franchise is guaranteed simply by virtue of the fact Jeepers Creepers 3 exists at all, meaning that the film feels more like wheel-spinning setup than something that truly moves this franchise forward.
That group of hunters? All the history about the Creeper teased? Despite it all being built up throughout the film, none of it matters. The hunters fail spectacularly - because if they didn't, there would be no second film - and the bombshell about who or what the Creeper is that is continually on the verge of being dropped on the audience is instead kept locked up for a future film. Had the film not spent the bulk of its runtime queuing up a big revelation, it wouldn't be such a big problem, but because it did and fails to actually follow through so that another film can deal with the answers - while not even making up for it by at least moving the series forward narratively - Jeepers Creepers 3 instead becomes an exercise in frustration.
On top of that, the film is saddled with a myriad of other problems. CGI is mercifully used sparingly, but when it is on screen, it's painfully, distractingly obvious. The pacing is languid, taking forever to get going only to abruptly end in a "That's it?" manner when things finally pick up. The cast has no real standouts, no one truly worth rooting for that anchors the film in the way Justin Long and Gina Philips did in Jeepers Creepers or Ray Wise did in Jeepers Creepers 2. And lest I forget, the film is riddled with issues with humor: Intentional comedy more often than not is cringeworthy and fails to land, while otherwise serious moments, including an "epic" final showdown between the Creeper and the lead hunter that is saddled with some astoundingly goofy slow-motion action, had the audience I was with collectively laughing at the film.
In truth, the real saving grace of the film is Jonathan Breck's Creeper. The prosthetic work looks as great as ever, and Breck's enthusiasm for the role - despite the actor never speaking a line - shines through. The Creeper's movements, the way it leers, the way it hunts, the way it confidently whistles as it strolls along after a successful kill, and more all come together as proof that Breck has a ball playing this monster even after all these years. It's just too bad both actor and character are undermined by a film that doesn't deserve them.
Sadly, though, one performance alone can't make up for all the problems that bring the film down, from its pointless narrative to its hollow characters to its inability to deliver on 14 years' worth of curiosity about where the franchise could go. The original Jeepers Creepers isn't a masterpiece, but it's a solid and enjoyable B-movie dripping in atmosphere, while Jeepers Creepers 2 served as a fun, if lesser, follow-up that at least felt in line with the first film in tone. Jeepers Creepers 3 is missing that spark that made those two films work back in the early 2000s, and the fact it's arrived this late only to do nothing to justify its existence except leave audiences waiting for the same film they've been waiting for since 2003 makes it feel like both a waste of opportunity and a waste of time.
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