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Dustin Putman

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Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)
2 Stars

Directed by Victor Salva
Cast: Ray Wise, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Eric Nenninger, Travis Schiffner, Garikayi Mutambirwa, Luke Edwards, Marieh Delfino, Lena Cardwell, Diane Delano, Drew Tyler Bell, Billy Aaron Brown, Kasan Butcher, Thom Gossum Jr., Al Santos, Josh Hammond, Tom Tarantini, Justin Long
2003 – 103 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for horror violence and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, August 30, 2003.

When "Jeepers Creepers" came to theaters on the Labor Day weekend of 2001, I wrote in my review that it was "the best thing to happen to the horror genre since 1999's groundbreaking 'The Blair Witch Project'." Two years and multiple viewings later, this statement still stands as a fair enough assessment. "Jeepers Creepers" was serious about its scares and brave in its chilling and unexpected denouement. When every other slasher picture of the time was being overly clever and doing the same old thing with a killer in a mask, "Jeepers Creepers" dared to be something different and smarter.

Despite original writer-director Victor Salva's return to the helm, "Jeepers Creepers 2" is a terminally lame sequel that pales in the shadow of its superior predecessor. Everything this film does, the first film did better. And everything it chooses not to do at all are the very things that were most memorable in that 2001 shocker. What made "Jeepers Creepers" so very notable within the horror field was its success in gradually ratcheting up real suspense and innovative ideas all the while developing its main characters—a college-aged brother and sister—to the point that the audience genuinely cared about their fates. In "Jeepers Creepers 2," the teenage victims-to-be are so shamelessly one-note and interchangeable that they might as well have been listed in the end credits as "Asshole Jock #1-8" and "Cheerleader #1-3." I've seen more complex character development in a "Friday the 13th" sequel.

The 8-minute prologue is the only setpiece that faithfully recreates the taut and disturbing air of the original, as a young boy putting up scarecrows in his father's (Ray Wise) cornfield is attacked and whisked away by the Creeper, a half-human/half-winged monster that awakens for 23 days every 23rd spring to feed on human body parts. Switch to the final day of the Creeper's wakeful period, a school bus carrying a slew of bickering basketball players and three cheerleaders breaks down on the desolate, backcountry Highway 9. Finding a spike with a human tooth in one of the tires and, later, another spike made out of a bellybutton, the no-nonsense bus driver (Diane Delano) suspects something sinister is afoot. She would be right. Before long, the bus's inhabitants are being terrorized by the monster lurking outside, while meek cheerleader Minxie (Nicki Lynn Aycox) starts experiencing psychic visions about the Creeper and his victims.

In "Jeepers Creepers 2," director Victor Salva's ideas of originality and suspense boil down to little more than the villain swooping down to the bus every few minutes, grabbing one of the ill-fated stick figures, and flying back up into the nighttime sky. One of the elements that made the Creeper so frightening the first time around was that, no only was he a monster with the capabilities to fly if need be, he also posed as a human psychopath who constantly drove the backwoods highway in his broken-down truck, searching for his next victim. Gone this time is the unforgettable truck—the subject of some of the first film's tauter scenes—and the Creeper's demonic lair. Gone, too, is his apparent ability to walk around.

Jonathan Breck has a field day reprising his role of the Creeper, but he doesn't have as much to do here other than pose as a bat with a person's body. Sure, the sight of him can still elicit goosebumps from time to time (truth be told, his make-up is one of the few areas that has improved), but not a single thing is learned about him that the viewer didn't already discover in the previous installment. Furthermore, precious time is dedicated to a set of inane dreams Minxie has, but nothing comes of them, and no reason is given for why she is suddenly experiencing psychic powers. As the stupidly named Minxie, Nicki Lynn Aycox plays the part as if she is always one step away from being either comatose or mute. And if you were hoping to finally find out who or what the Creeper actually is, and where he came from, don't hold your breath. Director Salva sure didn't.

In scope, "Jeepers Creepers 2" is grander than the first film, its special effects more extensive, and its action sequences more plentiful. Ultimately, what it has gained financially it has lost in imagination and brain power. Despite the aforementioned opening scene getting things off to a jolting start, and a few individual stalking setpieces workmanlike and amicably spooky, its mood is constantly being ruined every time one of the dimwitted characters open their hateful little mouth. Additionally, hints of racism and homosexuality do not further the story and only make the characters even vaguer ciphers. Adding insult to injury, the famous title song, which was used to such memorable effect in the first film, is also missing-in-action, making the very name of the movie meaningless. Whereas "Jeepers Creepers" was a grisly and memorable mini-triumph of nightmarish glee, "Jeepers Creepers 2" is nothing more than a joyless, by-the-numbers, paper-thin disappointment.
© 2003 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman