Horror guru Victor Salva struck gold with his 2001 monster flick, Jeepers Creepers. The film – about a man-eating creature that sets its sights on two siblings who are returning home from spring break – wasn’t only a box-office hit, it was also a good movie. If Salva wanted to repeat the success of the first film, perhaps the writer-director should have followed a similar formula with Jeepers Creepers 2.
But that would make way too much sense. Instead, Salva forgets everything he did well in the first film and does it the opposite way here – with much less success. What the original movie got right, this movie gets wrong, and it is difficult to watch such a talented filmmaker as Salva drift into horror-movie oblivion.
As Billy Taggart Jr. finishes his chores in his father’s cornfield, he notices the unusual twitching of a scarecrow nearby. Suddenly, a horrifying winged beast – called ‘The Creeper’ – bursts from its scarecrow disguise and lunges at him, sending him screaming and running toward the barn. Billy’s father (Ray Wise) sees the monster chasing his son and races to grab his shotgun… but he is unable to save Billy. The Creeper quickly snatches the terrified boy from his feet and carries him into the sky.
Meanwhile, returning home from a championship game, a school bus full of varsity basketball players, cheerleaders, and coaches becomes stranded on a nearby country road. It’s no accident that the bus has become marooned, however; The Creeper has flattened the tires. As night falls, The Creeper viciously kills the teammates, one by one. Eventually, they learn about the legend of The Creeper: Every 23rd spring, for 23 days, it gets to eat. It’s day 22, and the athletes must work together as a team if they want to survive the night. But The Creeper has already chosen who it wants to eat, and it will stop at nothing to do so.
Jeepers Creepers 2 doesn’t have interesting characters like the first film – it merely has stereotypes posing as characters that are void of any interest or originality. Never breaking a creative sweat, Salva inserts the standard high school jocks, cheerleaders, fags, and a nerd who looks so much like Rick Moranis that I wonder if royalties were involved. Because the characters are so familiar — after the amusing bus driver lady dies — The Creeper itself becomes the most interesting of the bunch. After that, since we have such little to think about in the film, we actually begin to hope these idiot athletes get their just desserts.
The first Jeepers Creepers lacked a sufficient body count to relieve the ample tension, but, because it focused primarily on two characters, it got away with that. Jeepers Creepers 2 can’t make such excuses; it has dozens of dispensable characters ripe for the picking. And, even though this film has a much higher body count than the first, the violence is much more brief. There are only a few savory moments of gore, such as when The Creeper surprises a victim, wraps him inside its wing, and tears off his head. The Creeper then replaces its own wounded head with the victim’s. Apart from that, The Creeper merely whisks its victims into the sky. We want to see blood and gore in horror movies, not brief glimpses of a monster carrying victims away.
Salva is smart to continue the mythology he created in the first film. That whole ’23rd spring’ thing gives the movie a horrifying reality. The way the mythology is continued, however, is puzzling. Apparently, a cheerleader on the bus has a vision in her sleep, and it explains everything about The Creeper. A vision? Give me a break. I don’t mind suspending disbelief, but this is just laziness. There are more creative ways the athletes could have discovered The Creeper mythology than a sleep-induced vision. Furthermore, the mythology itself is becoming flawed. For the first film, the concept of an invincible monster was chilling. But now that we know the monster is invincible, the concept just doesn’t trigger much suspense anymore – it can’t die, and it gets whatever it wants. Where’s the suspense in that?
Aka Jeepers Creepers II.
The DVD adds a ton of extras for the obsessed: deleted scenes, two commentary tracks (one from the Creeper!), documentaries galore, and two scenes that were storyboarded but not shot.
Get to creepin’.