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John’s Horror Corner: Jeepers Creepers 4: Reborn (2022), this empty, soulless reboot is the worst movie of the franchise… by far.

March 11, 2023

MY CALL: This is to JC movies what Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) was to Indiana Jones movies (1981-1989). And if you’re too young to have suffered to understand this reference, consider yourself lucky. MORE MOVIES LIKE Jeepers Creepers: Reborn: I’d recommend seeing Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) instead… and (not that it was awful, but) I’d skip the next sequel Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017), which was really a mid-quel taking place between JC1 and JC2.

The Creeper Timeline: JC4 begins just like JC1, but with an elderly couple playing license plate road trip games in lieu of Darry and Trish (Jeepers Creepers (2001)). And like JC1, they are harassed on the road by a truck with the unmistakable Creeper’s license plate, and subsequently witness the driver at the side of the road dumping bodies. As the early scenes continue, this feels more and more like a scene for scene remake. Oh but wait… this is a scene of the “Jeepers Creepers movie” within the movie. So this sequel-reboot (rebootquel?) needs not follow the rules or events of JC1-JC3 as canon.

We enjoy the tactful exposition as young couple Laine (Sydney Craven; Slotherhouse, York Witches Society, EastEnders) and Chase (Imran Adams; Hollyoaks) bicker about cryptids. The characters are likable and playfully written. Unfortunately, this only applies to the early scenes. After that, the writing and acting is pretty crappy. This tends to be the case when the opening scene (or some “good concept scene”) is essentially the idea that spawned the screenplay in the first place. And like many such cases, the scene in question and the idea it presents are far better than the movie built around it.

The Creeper emerges from an abandoned shack in the woods like a rigid, quivering insect from a cocoon, covered in tattered chunks of monster chrysalis. This should really set a tone for us. But sadly, the visual effects are not impressive at all. It eats a handful of worms (that have no business being there on the soil’s surface like someone dumped a can of fish bait nightcrawlers there) and I’m starting to fear this movie is going to suck. Spoiler alert, I’m apparently more psychic than the psychic in JC1-JC3.

Not gonna’ lie. As soon as I realized that this was a reboot and not the re-emergence of the Creeper (as we knew him) 23 years after JC1, I was disappointed. I want the mythology to build. I want callbacks to what happened before. More problematic is that this seems to have the lowest budget of the four movies. This just feels like a movie that wouldn’t/shouldn’t get a theatrical release—even though, admittedly, worse films still do.

The first kill is weak. Very weak. Just bad. Then there are Laine’s premonitions—yup, more empty psychic crap that leads nowhere satisfying. The wardrobe, sets and general shots are akin to an unskilled student film. I wish this wasn’t happening.

I don’t mind cheap movies. I often enjoy them. But when a “part 4” (or reboot) is the distinctly cheapest looking movie of the franchise, this just feels phoned-in and like a waste of my time. Moreover, the cash-grabbiness is even more obvious because the producers clearly didn’t care about the fans… not that I’m pretending they typically do.

This movie can’t seem to find any momentum. Falsely presented as an escape room experience our lead couple ends up in an old “haunted” house, trapped inside with the Creeper. I despise how this was clearly chosen for cheap barren sets. And there’s a cult angle to the plot that feels just plain dumb, uninspired and (I’ll say it again) phoned in.

The special effects behind the Creeper continue to wane. The ears are sloppily made and part of a rubber mask. I don’t think it looks very good—at least, not as good as any of JC1-JC3. But it is more “monstrous” looking, even if lower quality. I don’t care for this take on the Creeper. But some may like its less “cheesy and cheeky” behavior and expressions, which are toned down in JC4. Almost nothing substantial is happening on-screen. And just when you thought it would: blurry CGI as the Creeper swoops in and grabs someone. Truly terrible.

The best parts of this movie include a thrown hammer impaling someone in the head and a couple other impaling stabs—brief but well-executed. Too bad nothing else was. Most of the horror action was of complete throwaway quality for me. This all really surprised me. I am quite fond of director Timo Vuorensola’s (Iron Sky, Iron Sky: The Coming Race) past work, yet this film seems to have none of his fingerprints on it. I’m assuming this was meant to bring him into more mainstream movies, and that he settled on a crap budget and script for the opportunity. Oh well…

Sadly, after the two opening scenes, I thought this movie was bad. And while certainly enjoyable for anyone seeking a bad movie deliberately, this absolutely does no justice to the JC franchise, it didn’t scratch my JC itch, and it fell way too far below my acceptable expectations for a formerly good franchise. This would be best enjoyed by folks who have not seen the previous three movies. Because if you have, this new movie will only disappoint you… a lot. That was my unfortunate experience. However, if this is your first JC movie, they only get better as you work in reverse!

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