Mark Reviews Movies

JEEPERS CREEPERS 2

1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Victor Salva

Cast: Ray Wise, Jonathan Breck, Travis Schiffner, Eric Nenninger, Garikayi Mutambirwa, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Lena Cardwell, Thom Gossom Jr.

MPAA Rating: R (for horror violence and language)

Running Time: 1:43

Release Date: 8/29/03


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Review by Mark Dujsik

For a while, I was convinced that the opening scene of Jeepers Creepers 2 was writer/director Victor Salva mocking the stupidity of his central character's stupidity in the original.  You may remember in the first Jeepers Creepers that one of the heroes actually went down into a pipe into which he just saw a man dump a dead body.  We expect his folly to be punished quickly and severely, as we've come to expect from all horror movie characters (better described as potential victims), but then Salva raised the stakes, allowing his main characters to at least appear smarter than we first guessed.  It's not until the end of the movie that any retribution is exacted.  This time, the movie opens with a really, really stupid act, but the perpetrator is literally carried away immediately afterwards.  As I said, I thought it a satirical act.  Or at least I did until Salva continued to move on to characters who spend the rest of the movie doing equally stupid or stupider things, and that's when I understood that Salva took this material as far as it could go the first time around.

An unmentioned time after the events of the first movie, it is now day twenty-two of the Creeper's (Jonathan Breck) twenty-three-day feeding spree.  At a farm, a young boy notices a strange scarecrow and, of course, walks up to it.  As it turns out, it's the Creeper, and as it flies away with his youngest son in its clutches, Jack Taggart (Ray Wise) is left speechless and stunned.  Salva shows this with a uselessly extended hold and zoom on his vacant stare, which sets up the other pointless extended shots that will follow.  The next day (day twenty-three, we're told, in case we have short-term memory problems), a bus carrying a champion basketball team, their coaches, and cheerleaders is heading down the highway, only to have one of their tires go flat.  There's a strange ninja throwing star in the tire, which brings up a red flag for the adults onboard.  Meanwhile, back on the farm (trust me, it pains me more to write it than for you to read it), Jack is still devastated by the loss of his son and still stuck in a vacant stare, but after finding a decorative knife with a mind of its own, he has a plan.

From here on out, the movie focuses back on the kids on the bus, who have inexplicably waited until night to start driving again after being unable to contact anyone by radio or cell phone.  Of course, the bus is stopped entirely, and the adults disappear quickly.  The teenagers we're left with don't elicit any sympathy and, save for a few, are completely forgettable.  There's Scott (Eric Nenninger), the subtly racist and homophobic jock who we constantly hope will be the next victim, which is a problem because he's the only character Salva spends any time with before the attacks.  This is the kind of guy who continues to fight over trivial things even when his life is in dire jeopardy.  There's Minxie (Nicki Lynn Aycox), the psychic girl who must have been leftover from the Final Destination franchise.  She's the one who has dreams of the Creeper's past victims and is able to explain the monster's modus operandi even though she never hears about it in her dreams.  Much about the creature is left a mystery (including the reason behind his tendency to mug for the camera), either because Salva thinks we know all we need to know about it or because there's no time for explanations when all the characters are too busy being dumb.

There's a lot of looking in holes in the bus' roof that the Creeper makes and running outside of the bus at the worst possible time, but we expect that kind of behavior.  It's when the script is as dense as its characters that a major problem arises, and Salva's script is loaded with contrivances.  There's a javelin conveniently on the bus, apparently forgotten by the track and field team.  When someone jams the javelin through the Creeper's face, its eye is at the end of it looking at us, meaning someone forgot the way the eyeball is positioned in the skull.  Later, the Creeper comes crashing down on to the top of the bus, causing all of the windows to shatter, except, of course, for the ones large enough for people to fit through.  As the demon lies unconscious, one character tries to pry the door open, but of course, he isn't able to open it until after the creature regains consciousness, which means it's pretty useless.  The door handle to a truck breaks off at the worst possible moment, guaranteeing that one character will need to sit in the back of the truck in immediate danger.

Never are the contrivances more obnoxious than during the climax, when Jack returns with a giant grappling hook weapon (introduced in mind-numbingly boring slow motion).  After shooting the Creeper, the truck is continuously knocked around but eventually flips over after there's only one less person in it.  Then the Creeper—missing arms and legs—hops after his target, looking quite silly.  Then Salva actually has the totaled truck return for a deus ex machina resolution.  Then everything is literally wrapped up in a neat little package.  Then…  It's not worth the effort to continue.  Needless to say, Jeepers Creepers 2 sets up the distressing possibility of another sequel.  This one is one too many.

Copyright © 2003 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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