Title: Jeepers Creepers 3
Director: Victor Salva
Writer: Victor Salva
Release Date: October 28, 2017
Jeepers Creepers 3 marks the return, after 14 years, of The Creeper. His name is Victor Salva – a convicted child molester. He’s also the writer and director of the cult Jeepers Creepers series, which itself stars a monster called The Creeper. That one returns every 23 years to eat the flesh of its victims. They’re basically the same person, only the movie version, with his rubbery face, razor-sharp teeth and pale, bat-like wings, looks moderately less like a paedophile than Salva does.
Whoa. What happened to separating the art from the artist?
Don’t worry – my critique of the film (which is appalling) isn’t based on Salva being a nonce. But it’s important that people know the story so that they can make their own decision about whether to boycott the work. And that’s a perfectly valid position. The only way to prevent Salva from enjoying the fruits of moviemaking – which it increasingly seems is the preferred art form of some of the worst people in the world – is to not support his movies. Cut off the head and the body dies.
Besides, Salva’s sexual deviance, and how he exists within a culture that often ignores and sometimes tacitly endorses abuse, is really the most interesting thing about his film. I read a comment the other day regarding I Love You, Daddy, the latest film of comedian Louis C.K., who was recently accused of masturbating in front of several women. (He subsequently admitted it.) The comment suggested that our – that is, culture’s – tolerance for such accusations is dependent on the quality of the accused’s art.
People are more willing to denounce Louis C.K. and his work than they are that of, say, Roman Polanski, another child molester, despite the latter’s crimes being (legally speaking) more severe. I think there’s a lot of truth to this. Which is just as well, really, as Salva’s art – at least in this case – is so terrible that most people have had no problem avoiding it and declaring, loudly, that the man’s a kiddie-fiddler and should be treated as such. This strikes me as fair.
Moving on from Victor Salva..
Okay. What’s Jeepers Creepers 3 about?
Set between the events of the first film and it’s much loved (though not by me) sequel, Jeepers Creepers 3 divides time between the exploits of the Creeper and a ragtag group of anti-Creeper hunters who’ve all been affected in some way by the monster’s last feeding frenzy. Among them are Sheriff Tashtego (Stan Shaw), Sergeant Tubbs (Brandon Smith) and Gaylen Brandon (Meg Foster), whose son was killed by the Creeper in the first film and whose granddaughter, Addison (Gabrielle Haugh), might very well be next.
There’s slightly more to it. At one point Gaylen is possessed by one of the Creeper’s severed hands (it can regenerate lost body parts by eating new ones), which, she insists, tells her everything about what it is and where it came from.
We get some backstory, then?
Nope. Neither Gaylen nor Sheriff Tashtego, who is also privy to this knowledge, shares it with the audience. Neither use it to effectively kill or even fight the creature. In fact, there isn’t even a conclusion. The film eventually just ends. With the Creeper being left alone to hibernate and most of the cast being dead – mostly thanks to their own stupidity. The absence of any dramatic structure here is so noteworthy as to be laughable, and might even constitute a bizarre stylistic choice if I wasn’t convinced that the root cause of it was good, old-fashioned incompetence.
If we don’t get the Creeper’s origin story, what do we get?
Lots and lots of screentime is devoted to the Creeper’s seemingly-sentient Mystery Machine-style truck – licence plate: BEATNGU – which drives itself and came off the showroom floor with a plethora of dopey boobytraps. It fires harpoons, has a jail cell in the back, drops bombs that are like the red shells from Mario Kart and follow their targets around. The film is pretty much about this thing. We’re supposed to be amazed by it. But thanks to how routinely it’s gadgetry is displayed, and how thoroughly stupid the whole idea is, all there is to be amazed by is the CGI. Which is terrible to a degree that is almost impressive.
So, no Creeper?
Oh, he’s there, just not very often. But even when he is you mostly wish he wasn’t. I’ve never quite understood the appeal of this particular movie-monster. He can’t die, he can’t be stopped; so where’s the tension? The sense one gets is that the Creeper is designed to be “cool”. He flies, he has a truck full of gadgets, and he twirls around medieval weaponry. But there’s a limit to how many scenes of the Creeper slowly lining up an axe or a spear throw a movie can include before the banality of it becomes overpowering. And there’s always the sad reality that the characters are so bland and unlikeable that there’s nothing to be lost by the Creeper skewering all of them.
Do we have a protagonist?
The aforementioned granddaughter is the closest thing. She’s brooding and sad because she’s forced to live with her grandma on a farmstead that’s on the verge of insolvency. It’s difficult to understate how little I cared about this particular wrinkle. Still, she’s more interesting than the paramilitary survivor squad, who all wear insignia on shoulder patches that depicts a skull attached to the creature’s wing. Their plan is so dumb it beggars belief. A huge chaingun mounted on the back of a truck is their only idea. If there’s a worse way to attack a winged, immortal serial killer, then I’m certainly not aware of it.
Is there a reason for the film being so bad?
I’m leaning towards idiocy. You could possibly suggest budgetary constraints. However, I can’t imagine it would have affected the film’s bottom line too much to write better characters and a better story. The two high-schoolers at the centre of the proceedings are as one-dimensional, disposable and forgettable as the busload of schoolkids in the second film. And any potential heroism in the hunting squad is rapidly undermined by their spectacular ineptitude. That, and the broken promise of crucial insight into the creature’s history is a perplexing flaw. I can’t say the movie would have been better had such a thing been included, but it would have at least been less insulting of the audience’s intelligence.
Even if you’re a fan of the franchise, you’d do well to stay away from this travesty. It’s shoddily written, badly acted, dumb, cheap, worthless garbage for which nobody deserves to be paid. Least of all a convicted sex criminal.
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