In 2001, when a relatively unknown director named Victor Salva linked up with the world renowned Francis Ford Coppola to create Jeepers Creepers, little did anybody realise how seminal and genre changing the film would ultimately be.
Salva has vaguely pushed on since the JC’s success, only releasing the sequel to it and a few smaller projects leading up to the completion of the third instalment to the franchise.
One such project is Rosewood Lane which, this time, is not only written and directed by Salva but also produced by the man who cites late night Creature Features of yesteryear as his inspiration.
Salva’s films typically include some kind of supernatural element; a journey into the unknown in which the viewer must attempt to fathom that which they have never encountered before. Rosewood Lane is true to type.
What Rosewood Lane does differently to Creepers is it shows how an almost identical theme can be constructed on a significantly smaller budget. This is not to say that its production was particularly hindered in anyway as Rosewood Lane’s credits boast similar names to those involved in the Creepers films – there was D.P. Don E. FauntLeRoy, composer Bennett Salvay and a number of cast members.
This being said, Salva invariably attempted to ride on the coattails of his Creeper movies in regurgitating a vastly similar leitmotif.
There is the same propensity for revealing the monstrous beneath the veil of normality. Unlike Creepers, it doesn’t take place on the long winding roads of rural America; instead, it is brought right onto the doorsteps of suburbia in a way that makes it more relatable to a larger audience.
Comparatively, the film therefore feasts on the safeness and naivety of a typically unassuming society in the way that John Carpenter’s Halloween did all those years back. The neighbourhood’s lack of – or unwillingness to be – aware of the potential danger in their midst makes Rosewood Lane creepy viewing as we believe that there is an unidentifiable being masquerading as a teenage paperboy amongst them. Rosewood Lane doesn’t become as detailed in showing the ugliness of the creature as Creepers was for a very distinct reason that becomes apparent by the end of the film.
Yet, ‘creepy’ is the operative adjective. In no way can you claim that Rosewood Lane bettered Jeepers Creepers in terms of shock value or jump scares particularly as it follows that particular blueprint. If you have seen Creepers then you can pretty much predict what will lurk around every Rosewood Lane corner. So it’s not scary but the plot isn’t any less creepy to endure.
Just watching the relentless nature of the protagonist Derek the paperboy as he trespasses on the personal and private spaces of the neighbourhood sends a chill down your spine. No blood and gore necessary, just odd and mischievous behaviour that’s close to the bone. Could you imagine how you’d feel if you found that your neighbour, even after frequent warnings, continued to invade your home?
Then, as his conduct worsens, the cloak unravels revealing something potentially subhuman about this boy. It is this slow and methodical revelation that maintains your interest in the film throughout.You can’t help but stick with it, watching as all the pieces of the puzzle are fitted together to give a better picture of what the inhabitants of the quiet cul-de-sac are dealing with.
It’s not enough, however, to hope that a watcher will just stick with the numerous lulls in the plot without a strong cast to maintain your enthusiasm. Oddly, but in a good way, considering all the recognisable actors attached, Daniel Ross Owens’ portrayal as the omnipresent stalker-ish homicidal nursery rhyme enthusiast antagonist was most notable. Everywhere you looked there were seasoned professionals, from Ray Wise to Lin Shaye yet it was the rookie, best known for cameo appearances on various television series, who stole the show.
Not many of the actors were drawn out of their comfort zones so it’s difficult to critique their work negatively or positively except to say that they did what they do best respectively. Rose McGowan, on the other hand, played off type effectively in a more conventional role to her characteristically non-conformist shtick. We know what to expect from the Grindhouse (2007), Death Proof (2007) and The Doom Generation (1995) Rose – a ballsy feisty empowered female character so it was interesting to see how she fared as the victimised protagonist for once; that which she mocked so garishly in Scream (1996).
Sufficed to say, she played the role empathetically whilst incorporating that kick-ass persona she has so long embodied for the final showdown with Derek. If there is one woman who is tough enough to fight a monster, it’s McGowan and so it proved.
No doubt, Salva’s influence and links with people in high places elevated this film slightly. In many ways it is enjoyable but it’s maybe only enjoyable to those with a nostalgic penchant for dated horror film archetypes. By this I mean…a paperboy?! Does that profession even really exist anymore?!
Ultimately, life just isn’t as simplistic as the film portrays it to be so filmmakers like Salva must work harder to revitalise the old horror concepts or get involved with the new ones.
As far as Rosewood Lane is concerned, expect disturbing scenes and a fascinating twist ending that suggests that what you thought you knew isn’t as once it seemed.
That’s the only way of explaining it without being culpable of spoilers.