"The knowing is the horror and to see it is a scary movie."- Breanna Taylor.
For some reason when watching this film recently, I was reminded of Aunt Hester's scream and maybe how it's not of this world. It rings in from some unearthly place, some place that only womanness can place you. Some place that Blackness continues to cut and refine. Maybe her scream can still be heard. Maybe it comes in the form of a disciplinary yell, maybe it's a dream, maybe it's the truth. The truth ringing in our eardrums, making us reach into the canal of our ear and shake it loose. Yet and still, the truth remains and to not know it is to die in naivete. Jazz singer and activist, Abbey Lincoln stresses the need to stay in the knowing as she reflects on her song 'Protest,' " I just want to be of use to my ancestors/It's holy work and it's dangerous not to know that 'cause you could die like an animal down here."
The 'down here' correlates with the unearthly place in which Aunt Hester's scream still rings in from. I see it as ' the hold' or the space in which bodies were held in the bowels of the slave ship. If we accept her scream as truth, or her being able to see all that there is from her outside-looking-in position, then Jezelle's clairvoyance in 'Jeepers Creepers,' is the reverberation of it. The holy work that keeps her in the knowing. Jezelle (Patricia Belcher), a local, clairvoyant in the film serves as an aid to the police in which she has helped to find missing persons using her gift of sight. It is here that I realize Jezelle's role takes on the trope of the 'magical savior,' in which her character is indebted to the survival of the white protagonists of the movie, through the use of her gifts which are seen as 'magical'. This role is not unfamiliar to Black characters in horror, but especially Black wimmin, and specifically those who would not be deemed 'acceptable' for a variety of reasons (size, color, beauty, etc) in society.
The main characters, Trish and Darry first encounter Jezelle when they receive a call from her at a diner where they visit after another encounter with 'The Creeper.' I see the call as the scream ringing in from another place, in which we are unable to see Jezelle, but hear her voice. The sonic power that this particular scene holds, is not simply because we can't see her but because the characters have never met her. Her call is one of warning, in which she warns them of 'The Creeper,' and how to try and stay alive. The characters reject the warning but its power refuses to wane, as we see the characters encounter 'The Creeper' again, having been told more about what to avoid. We finally meet Jezelle when Trish and Darry arrive at the police station.
Jezelle came knowing the truth but in some way tried to conceal it, for it was too much for her to bare to know but also for Trish and Darry to know too. She explained to the siblings what she saw and how the next series of events would take place with 'The Creeper.' A moment between Jezelle, Trish, and Darry that stood out the most to me was when Darry went to grab Jezelle's face and shook her while asking, "are your dreams ever wrong?" Given all of my reading in Black studies/hauntology and my understanding of intuition and spirit, I understood this question in a different light.
In rewording Darry's question, I understood him to be asking Jezelle, "how do I know you speak the truth? what gives you the premise to be able to speak it?" I understand the truth in the context of this film as knowing and recognizing that at the center of the white imagination/reality, humanness is seen as the most powerful thing. Therefore, anything outside of that “reality,” is not accepted as truth. Blackness has been positioned outside of humanity by the nature of our world, therefore we have had to come to see our existence as something other than human, because we were told that we weren’t, yet still expected to be in this world but not of it. By this logic, it’s a no brainer that the truth teller is a black womxn, being Jezelle with the ability to “see” into the reality of whiteness and warn those who live within it that there is a danger approaching ('The Creeper).
What if the “seeing” is just the acceptance of the truth? Let's be real, no one likes the truth. All of it sounds good in theory, but we don't enjoy it. Even moreso, we dread being the ones to have to tell it. In our world, Black wimmin have constantly had to be truth tellers, bringing news of everyone's demise (including our own) to try and save everyone. Either way it goes, Black wimmin have always tried to save us. Save us from what you may ask? Maybe disappointment, maybe wasted energy, maybe from our own fear of dying. But either way it goes, Black wimmin have tried to step up and tell the truth, even when we knew no one would hear it. A scream ringing in from another place.
"Jeepers Creepers" Directed By: Victor Salva (2001)