JEEPERS CREEPERS 2
** (out of 5)
August 29, 2003
Ray Wise as JACK TAGGART
Jonathan Breck as THE CREEPER
Travis Schiffner as IZZY BOHEN
Nicki Lynn Aycox as MINXIE HAYES
Drew Tyler Bell as JONNY YOUNG
Billy Aaron Brown as ANDY BUCK
Directed by: Victor Salva
BY KEVIN CARR
Every 23 years, it awakes for 23 days and gets to eat. Well, if you are to believe what you’ve seen in the first movie, it also gets its driver’s license and registers the plates of a beat-up truck to “BEATNGU” in those 23 days as well. Now I’ve seen some creepy people at the DMV, but this is ridiculous!
Most of “Jeepers Creepers 2” takes place in a stranded school bus that is transporting a high school basketball team home from winning the championship. The Creeper (Jonathan Breck) stalks the bus and busts out its tires with throwing stars made from its claws and body part souvenirs from its victims. While the adults try to fix the flats, the Creeper picks them off one by one before turning his sights on the kids who are armed with nothing more than javelins and a flare gun.
To be honest, I couldn’t care less about the kids on the bus. It was filled with jerks and wimps. These were the kind of people I hated in high school. Not one of the kids had a likeable quality. Even the token horror movie nerd was such a spineless, whiny dork. I found myself rooting for the Creeper.
Perhaps this was the point of the film – to get you to root for the bad guy. And I would have believed it if the film didn’t deteriorate into the standard horror movie in the end. By the last half hour, the movie lost this backwards flavor completely. Ultimately, “Jeepers Creepers 2” just didn’t have enough guts to let you root for the Creeper through the whole film.
But my biggest gripe with “Jeepers Creepers 2” is that it isn’t even consistent in its own franchise. This wouldn’t be that bad if the studio had taken the sequel out of the creator’s hands and handed it to some low-level hack to put his own spin to it. But this film is written and directed by Victor Salva, the guy who wrote and directed the first one. Salva has no one to blame but himself for ruining his own story.
There were so many aspects to the Creeper from the first film that are left unexplored – or worse yet ignored – in the sequel. First, how does this film fit in with the time frame of the first? Justin Long appears as the dead character of Darry Jenner in a murky dream sequence to one of the girls. Was he killed 23 years ago? Or 23 days ago? In the first film, the Creeper picked out its victims by smelling something about them that it wanted (not by smelling something in their fear, which is said in this film)- like eyes, arms, toes, etc. In this version, the Creeper sniffs through the kids then kills them indiscriminately anyway.
The film opens on day 22 of the Creeper’s latest reign of terror. But when the would-be victims listen to the radio, the police are talking about strange abduction cases as if they only started happening that night. If the Creeper was devouring people all over the countryside for the past three weeks, wouldn’t the entire American news media be swarming over the story? Mass murder is a big news story. After all, it only took two or three shootings for the D.C. sniper to make national headlines.
“Jeepers Creepers 2” is a decidedly sharp drop in quality from the first film. It’s still a somewhat decent horror flick if you’re looking for cheap scares and eerie imagery. But where the first film had a mystery to discover – who was this dark figure dropping bodies down an old sewer pipe, was it even human and how can it be killed – there is no mystery whatsoever in the sequel. We know from the opening credits that the creature is preternatural because of the lame 17-year locust plot point. Then within the first scene, we see it has wings and it’s not just a creepy guy in a hat.
Salva started down some interesting paths in this film – like the Hitchcockian decision to make a stranded school bus the main location – but he never followed through with them. The school bus is abandoned late in the film, but the point is that it was abandoned. A real interesting challenge would have been to make the entire film take place on the bus. That’s how Hitchcock would have done it. Too many writers and directors these days try to emulate directors like Hitchcock and just never have the guts to go all the way.
Of course, any review of a Victor Salva film cannot escape the mentioning of the fact that he is a confessed and convicted child molester. (His first big film, “Powder” was partially squelched at the box office by his victim bringing this fact to light.) However, Hollywood has a certain admiration for child molesters and honors them with the Academy Award. And with the American Zoetrope label on the film, Francis Ford Coppola seems to think it okay to throw production money and support at them.
As sleazy of a character that Victor Salva is, I have to admit he can be a fantastic director of the horror genre. His first film “Clownhouse” was a creepy masterpiece (although it’s memory is soured by the fact that it stars Salva’s molestation victim Nathan Winters). And the first “Jeepers Creepers” was a surprisingly fresh spin on the genre. But his first sequel falls flat. (And I still wouldn’t let him in the same room with my kids – not even for a minute.)