Is there a reason for a third Jeepers Creepers film? Well, there was hardly a reason for the first one, so arguing such matters is purely academic at this point. What’s clear is that they continue to eke out a profit beyond recouping their modest budget, so the likelihood of more of these coming down the pike is relatively strong. Writer/director Victor Salva, creator of the franchise, is clearly confident in the continued ability of these films to justify their own existence, considering the last-scene setup he tagged onto this latest movie. So perhaps the question isn’t “Should there be another Jeepers Creepers,” but do you want another?
If you do, you’re in luck — there is, in fact, another one. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect on the basis of the first two films, and while that may or may not be something you’re personally excited about, I can say that it’s not the worst low-budget horror flick that I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s predominantly effective at what it does, even though there aren’t any particularly memorable scares, and the effects work on the titular Creeper is patently absurd. The whole thing plays like an overblown pilot for a bargain basement TV show on some throwaway network like the CW — so if that’s your thing, here you go.
I will say that the Jeepers Creepers universe successfully sticks assiduously to its own story rules. Salva would say that, too — repeatedly in his script. His characters are fond of frequently pointing out that the Creeper returns every 23 years to feed on people, that the last time this happened was 20 years ago, that this will happen again in another two decades, etc. They seem to spend so much time talking about the Creeper’s periodic fear binge that they neglect to mention pertinent details about their backgrounds, motivations, identities — anything that would warrant a line of dialogue that wasn’t purely expository.
So if characterization isn’t the strong suit of Jeepers 3 (and why would it be), do the scares do anything to merit a watch? The unfortunate answer is, only occasionally. Much of the film takes place in broad daylight, so there’s no mystery regarding the Creeper — he looks like a pro wrestler with a skin condition in blackface. That said, the gore is maintained at a quasi-reasonable level, and the jump-scare doesn’t seem to be the only thing in Salva’s toolbox, so that puts it slightly ahead of some other films of its ilk.
Jeepers Creepers 3 is by no means a great horror movie, though it does occasionally flirt with becoming a decent one. But given the recent spate of exceptionally effective low-budget horror movies that have graced cinema screens in the last couple of years, is there really a legitimate reason for a film that feels stuck 15 years in the past to exist? Maybe Salva should take a page from It’s book and wait 23 years before delivering his fourth. Rated R. Now Playing at Grail Moviehouse.