The most shocking element of summer thriller Jeepers Creepers might be the way the film shifts from tension-building understatement to explicit Freddy Krueger-style horror. The movie's first half-hour establishes writer-director Victor Salva as someone to watch. It follows siblings Trish and Darry (Gina Philips and Justin Long) driving home through rural Florida during college break. A hulking, aggressive truck interrupts their family-style bickering and puts an edge on the drive. The tight-lipped residents slowly add to the pressure, and things come to a head when they spot an ominous figure leaving the truck to dump what looks like a human body. Slow, stylish details make this section such a success. The menace works up to an excellent white-knuckled scare that, unfortunately, proves to be an enormous letdown with the first sight of the monster.
Not only does Jeepers Creepers retreat into overblown horror territory, but the two characters the audience has so easily identified with are soon overshadowed by a large cast of creature-fighters. Nevertheless, the first chunk underscores what comes after as eager-to-please camp; if you've got the right attitude the whole thing might work.