Jeepers Creepers (2001) is fondly remembered by fans as a solid horror movie with a fun story and an awesome monster. The next movie in the series, Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), followed with another entertaining outing. By the time Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017) finally came out though, it seemed like the Jeepers Creepers franchise was finished. The third movie didn’t come close to matching the quality of the first two, and the controversy involving series creator Victor Salva killed the intimidating Creeper.
But now, in 2022, a new creative team is attempting to bring Jeepers Creepers back to life. Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is optimistically intended to be the first of a new trilogy, but it already has a lot going against it. The stigma of the Creeper’s creator has never gone away, and a behind-the-scenes legal battle has threatened to completely derail the movie’s release. Compiled here is everything we know about Jeepers Creepers: Reborn.
Release Date and Plot
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is set to release in theaters in the United States as a “three-night fan premiere event.” Hosted by Fathom Events, the movie will be shown on September 19, 20, and 21. Tickets go on sale starting August 12, and more information can be found on the Fathom Events site.
There is no official word yet about dates for a general theatrical release or for when Jeepers Creepers: Reborn will be available to stream.
As for the story, here’s the official synopsis as seen on the movie’s YouTube channel:
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn unfolds as the Horror Hound Festival holds its first ever event in Louisiana, where it attracts hundreds of geeks, freaks and die-hard horror fans from far and wide. Among them is fanboy Chase and his girlfriend Laine, who is forced to come along for the ride. But as the event approaches, Laine begins to experience unexplained premonitions and disturbing visions associated with the town’s past, and in particular, local legend/urban myth The Creeper. As the festival arrives and the blood-soaked entertainment builds to a frenzy, Laine believes that something unearthly has been summoned…and that she is at the center of it.
A bit more about the story can be gleaned from the trailer. It looks like Chase (Imran Adams) and Laine (Sydney Craven) win a drawing at the HorrorHound Festival, and their prize is a chance to participate in a Creeper-themed escape room. Along with three other people (Ocean Navarro, Matt Barkley, and Peter Brooke), Chase and Laine have to find a way out of the isolated house which is presumably filled with locks and puzzles made for the escape room game. But then, the Creeper shows up and tries to kill all of them.
For a while, no one was sure that Jeepers Creepers: Reborn would be released at all. On February 24, 2021, Variety announced that Jeepers Creepers: Reborn had been filmed in relative secrecy. The movie was stated to have a release date in the fall of 2021, presumably sometime between September and November of that year. The year passed with no movie, and fans were left wondering why.
Post-production evidently went longer than expected, but that wasn’t the only reason the movie was delayed. News of a lawsuit regarding distribution began to trickle out in May of 2022. For those who want to dig into it, documents from the court case can be viewed on unicourt.com. For the rest of us, the case is essentially about Myriad Pictures (producers of the previous two Jeepers Creepers movies) suing the producers of Jeepers Creepers: Reborn for breaching their rights regarding worldwide distribution.
Court records show that the case was filed March 16, 2021, just a few weeks after the big announcement of the movie’s existence in Variety. Apparently Jeepers Creepers: Reborn wasn’t just a secret from moviegoers, it was also a secret from Myriad Pictures. Interestingly, the case is still ongoing, with a jury trial set for January 29, 2024. Ongoing litigation likely means we won’t be seeing a wide theatrical release or a streaming release any time soon. So for now, the three-night Fathom Event described above may be the only way to see the movie.
A Troubled Franchise
It’s nearly impossible to discuss the Jeepers Creepers franchise without bringing up Victor Salva. Salva created the franchise, writing and directing the 2001 movie starring Justin Long and Gina Phillips as siblings Darry and Trish, and featuring Jonathan Breck as The Creeper. Salva also wrote and directed parts two and three in the series, making the franchise, up until the release of the new movie, Victor Salva’s trilogy. Having Salva’s name tied to Jeepers Creepers is a problem.
The release of Jeepers Creepers 3 in 2017 was met with strong resistance. For those unaware, Victor Salva was convicted of sexual abuse of a 12-year-old in 1988. He served fifteen months of a three-year sentence, but he returned to filmmaking shortly afterward. Salva’s conviction was never a secret, but social media helped spread awareness by the time the third Jeepers Creepers movie came out. The understandable stigma attached to Salva’s name contributed to Jeepers Creepers 3 getting a limited, two-day theatrical release in 2017 before airing on television and releasing on home video later in the year.
With the franchise being firmly linked to Salva, many people thought Jeepers Creepers would never return. Would it really be financially viable for a film studio to make a movie that was guaranteed to have a sizable portion of the public refuse to see it? Apparently the new producers are hoping that nostalgia for the earlier movies will outweigh the negative impact the association with its former director still has on the series.
A Fresh Start
One thing Jeepers Creepers: Reborn has going for it is that the new creative team is distancing themselves from the franchise’s past. At least, they’re distancing themselves as much as possible. From the start, marketing material for the movie never mentions Salva. Additionally, Salva is not listed on the IMDB page in any role, not even with a “characters created by” credit for the inclusion of The Creeper.
Timo Vuorensola is directing Jeepers Creepers: Reborn based on a script by Sean-Michael Argo. The director stated on Twitter that the script and the character of The Creeper are “completely new creations.” The new movie may very well be a completely standalone creation with regards to its plot, but to say it’s “completely” new feels disingenuous. Even if this version of The Creeper is a new creation, at the very least it still alludes to the original Creeper. The lore of The Creeper rising every 23 years is retained for the new movie, and the truck in the trailer looks the same as the original.
To be fair though, this is all speculation. The Creeper is portrayed by a new actor, Jarreau Benjamin, and he and the rest of the cast and crew deserve the benefit of the doubt. The movie looks like a fun time, and that’s exactly what Timo Vuorensola hopes to deliver. If the movie is good enough (and it can shake its distribution issues), it has a decent chance of creating a truly fresh start to an interesting yet troubled franchise.