Jeepers Creepers: Reborn faced the colossal challenge of rebooting a somewhat controversial franchise. On the one hand, Reborn had to move away as far as it could from Jeepers Creeper creator Victor Salva, his history of pedophilia, and the uncomfortable sexual undertones of the Creeper. At the same time, Reborn had to please long-term fans of the franchise, who were anxiously waiting for the return to the form of the Creeper after the Jeepers Creepers 3 fiasco. As expected, this paradoxical ethos gets in the way of Reborn being a coherent experience, as it’s nigh impossible to deconstruct a franchise while still being faithful to its core elements. Surprisingly, that’s the least of Jeepers Creepers: Reborn’s problems, as the franchise soft-reboot fails so spectacularly that no one will enjoy this dull and dumb movie.
After all the promises from director Timo Vuorensola that the new Creeper would sweep Salva under the rug and give the franchise a new life, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn opens with a reenactment of the first movie’s plot. Not only that, but we soon learn that Salva’s trilogy exist as movies in Reborn’s timeline, which is the perfect example of how the soft reboot tries to have its cake and eat it too. By transforming Salva’s trilogy into just a fictional work, Reborn can pretend to reinvent the Creeper and its mythology. At the same time, it pays homage to Salva’s work and promises fans the new movie won’t throw his Creeper away. In other words, Reborn doesn’t detach enough from the original trilogy to bring people who boycott Salva back to theaters. However, it doesn’t connect enough with previous events to please fans. For whom Jeepers Creepers: Reborn was developed, then? Apparently, for wannabe filmmakers, as a cautionary tale, because it botches everything that it tries to do
Let’s start with the obvious. Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is ugly to look at. And not ugly in the sense that it is gruesome and wicked, qualities that can actually elevate a horror movie. Salva’s first movie is still an entertaining horror movie, despite all, due to its clever use of practical effects to depict the Creeper and its cannibalistic kills. Reborn’s creature still tries to use practical effects only, but the budget of Reborn was so obviously low that the new Creeper looks clumsy instead of scary. What is worse is that the new movie uses green screens for reproducing almost any scenario, even simple dark nights. The result is a shallow digital background that pops up as a sore thumb, with a final result that looks more like a college project than an actual theatrical release. It’s painful to think Jeepers Creepers is a well-established IP, and it’s appalling that the soft reboot didn’t get enough money to avoid this shameful combination of lazy effects.
We shouldn’t judge a movie by its look alone, and if Jeepers Creepers: Reborn had a tight script, we could even forgive all the weird CGI. After all, the primary duty of any movie is to tell a story. Unfortunately, the script of Reborn sinks to new depths, so much that even Jeepers Creepers 3 seems to have something interesting to say in comparison. Filled with random events pushing the plot forward, Reborn trades direct confrontation for a cliché game of cat and mouse inside an abandoned house. And deprived of the violence that helped make him famous, the Creeper becomes a weird-looking man lurking in the shadows, not so threatening, not so funny, and extremely embarrassing.
It’s no wonder that the movie is so boring, as it lacks both original ideas and the ability to copy what worked before. Even at 87 minutes runtime, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn drags to a halt. It’s hard to believe this reboot fits the same franchise of the previous high-octane movies where the Creeper was a force to reckon, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Here, the Creeper gets involved in fistfights and needs help from other humans to get some food.
To add insult to injury, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn story moves slowly toward an ending that just throws some unexplained lore on the screen with the promise of explaining what happened in the sequel. That’s right, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn was ambitiously planned as the first chapter of a new trilogy. Someone just forgot to tell the crew that, for a sequel to exist, the first chapter needs to be entertaining. And while Jeepers Creepers 3 also had some unsolved plot points Salva wanted to explore in another sequel, that movie at least had its own tale to tell. Reborn is just some tiresome introduction to something so poorly planned that it becomes laughable. And if the reboot can’t even be better than the atrocious third installment of Salva’s trilogy, that means we are already scraping at the bottom of the barrel, and it can’t get any worse than this.
The rotten cherry at the top of the Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is the overall bad acting and disgraceful dialogue lines. Calling the characters of Jeepers Creepers: Reborn one-dimensional would give them more credit than they are worth. In the reboot, we are dealing with cardboard people who are all so incredibly stupid that it’s astonishing some of them can survive for so long. Then again, the Creeper is not doing so well, and he might want to eat more brains if he intends to keep up with his victims. Because while we know the Creeper likes to play around with his prey to smell their fear and choose which part of the bodies to eat, nothing justifies an immortal monster stopping the hunt to play some music on a gramophone, not one, nor two, but three times.
Everything in Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is cringe-inducing to the point that even getting to the credits becomes a chore. And the fact the movie is taking itself seriously only makes everything more painful. Not one person involved with the reboot seems to have realized how the movie is supposed to reignite the franchise but ends up sinking it lower than ever. Jeepers Creepers survived pedophilia scandals and the disgrace of its creator – for reasons some of us are still trying to comprehend. But after this misguided reboot, the Creeper might need more than 23 years to regain its strength and show its face again.