Jeepers Creepers (15)

Review by Tracy-Lee Driscoll

DVD FEATURES: Photo gallery; TV spots; Featurettes on effects, scoring, casting, night shoots, concept art etc; six deleted scenes; the original opening and final scenes; director's commentary.

BILLED as a `relentless nightmare from beyond the grave', this teen-horror flick offers plenty of humour, gore and suspense. The leads are pretty and the action is fast. If you like fairground rides, then you may well like Jeepers Creepers.

The tale is spun around the routine roadtrip of brother and sister, Trish (Gina Phillips) and Darry (Justin Long), which quickly descends into a supernatural `journey from hell'. Fully adhering to the Scream manifesto of dumb kids doing dumber things, Trish and Derry are guaranteed to get on your nerves within the first 20 minutes - you will want them to die.

Derry is driving Trish home from college when they encounter a ghostly and overbearing old truck, whose grim-reaperish driver tries to run the pair off the road. Driven by an incredulous script, they decide to check out the goul's house. There, they discover a stash of bodies, evidence of torture and more crows than you can shake a stick at. Cat and mouse games ensue and the rest of the movie whooshes past in a torrent of noise and banter. Phillips, who rose to fame as a dewy fresh secretary in Ally McBeal, does her best as Trish.

She can act, scream, run, look scared, and look gutsy while remaining as svelte and foxy as the genre demands. Also, hats off to Long (of Galaxy Quest fame) for his Keanu Reeves impression. But, being written and directed by Victor Salva, the brains behind such flicks as Rights of Passage and Powder, and boasting Francis Ford Coppola as a producer, I thought Jeepers Creepers would be better.

That is not to say that I wasn't entertained, suspense was well used and a lot of the lines got the audience laughing. But the motives of the killer-thing just needed to be a little more engaging and the plot a little less self-mocking. The writer and actors seemed to be more interested in hamming it up rather than taking the opportunity to be truly imaginative.

Look at Nightmare on Elm Street (the original as opposed to the terrible sequels), for example, it was well thought out and care had been taken to make Freddy Kruger as memorable and quirky as possible. Jeepers Creeper's killer has his moments, but is as forgettable as yesterday's breakfast.

In fact, nightmare figures are not what they used to be. Self-parody has its place in teen-horror flicks, but it's time to invest some energy back into script and artistry - by getting back to its roots, horror can be a splendid showcase of the imagination.