Movie Review: A rural “urban legend” returns — “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn”

There isn’t much mystery or suspense in “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn,” a horror movie whose characters are wholly aware there have been three other films based on this rural Deep South “urban legend.”

A bunch of them even cosplay the demon at the Horror Hounds fan convention which he strikes in this installment of the franchise.

As they know all about “The Creeper,” you’d think they’d be a lot quicker in figuring out how to outsmart the gargoyle who crawls out of the Louisiana muck every 23 years to dress up in scarecrow threads and Freddy Krueger fedora to slaughter humans who fall within his reach.

Screenwriter Sean-Michael Argo and director Timo Vuorensola filmed this in Finland and the UK (many scenes look sound-stagey) and Louisiana, and emphasize the slaughter, not making us identify with the slaughtered, fear for their fates or even anticipate with glee their murder.

A prologue set in the ’60s mimics the earlier “Jeepers” as an older couple (Dee Wallace, “E.T.’s” Mom, bane of the “Critters,” and bit player Gary Graham) is chased — “Duel” style — by an ancient International Harvester truck through the boondocks because they’ve seen the overcoated ghoul dumping bodies down a chute at his tumbledown ruin of a house.

Sydney Craven and Imran Adams play the present-day couple checking into this horror convention, cosplaying and dully-acting the leads whom we are supposed to empathize with. Laine is pregnant, and hasn’t told horror conspiracy fanatic Chase yet. Chase has a ring and hasn’t told her he’s proposing yet.

He’s a nerd and she’s a “scientist,” a biologist who repeats her own “legend” about that seasonal menace of windshields in the Deep South — lovebugs — as fact. Not much of a “scientist.”

Events conspire to send them to “The Creeper’s House” for the night, with a video crew and horror fest booth operator. Wonder who’ll survive? Wonder how this gigantic, winged beast who can drive a stick-shift truck will butcher them?

“The Creeper’s a fairytale, son.”

Because we know this screenplay is going to tell us a lot more “why” than we need to know or care to know. And that’s a sign they didn’t pay attention to more important things, like scripting more interesting characters, more terrifying situations and pithier lines, or getting the actors to buy in and give the viewer something to grab hold of.

Rating: R for violence, gore and language

Cast: Sydney Craven, Imran Adams, Matt Barkley, Peter Brooke, Ocean Navarro, Gary Graham and Dee Wallace.

Credits: Directed by Timo Vuorensola scripted by Sean-Michael Argo, based on the Victor Salva character and movies. A Screen Media release.

Running time: 1:27

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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