Jeepers Creepers 2 Review
Jeepers Creepers, the surprise horror hit of 2001, was half of a great movie. For the first hour, director Victor Salva built suspense and fear with admirable skill as two luckless teenagers driving down a lonely country road spied a man in a dirty old truck dumping what looked like a dead body. Their curiosity got the better of them, they went to take a look and ended up fleeing for their lives from the killer, who, it turned out, was not human. And that's where the film took a wrong turn from a nerve-wracking, Duel-like thriller into standard slasher movie territory complete with a man-in-a-mask monster that couldn't be killed. By the end, when the creature was revealed as a flying demon that looked like the offspring of Freddy Krueger and a pterodactyl, viewers who were paying attention wondered why it had bothered with the truck and why it hadn't just used its wings and swooped on its victims right at the start.
Sadly Jeepers Creepers 2 plays like the second half of its predecessor. After an opening scene where a farmboy is snatched by the creature, it introduces us to busload of high school basketball players, cheerleaders and assorted hangers-on who are returning triumphantly after winning the state championship, though not everyone is happy. There's tension between some of the athletes over who deserves the credit and over the sexuality of one of their number. They're about to have bigger problems. Their school bus blows a tyre and a strange-looking knife is discovered in the torn rubber. As the bus limps along, one of the cheerleaders has a vision of two dead boys warning her about a monster. As night falls, a second tyre bursts and another blade is discovered. Then, as the team's coach places a flare on the road, something snatches him from above.
All of this would be a lot more effective if, as in the original Jeepers Creepers, we didn't know what was going on. This time, we've come prepared and we're shown the monster from the very first scene, so all we're doing during the lengthy build-up is waiting for him to start doing his thing and mentally betting with ourselves who will get it first. Problem number two is that the characters aboard the besieged bus are as sketchy and unsympathetic as the camp counsellors in an average Friday The 13th flick. The only teenager who's given a personality turns out to be a hateful egomaniac whose death you'll look forward to with relish. Then there's the vengeful farmer who lost his son in the first scene (played by Ray Wise, who lost his daughter in Twin Peaks!) but he shows up too late in the day to cut it as a hero. That leaves us with no one to care about and so all of Victor Salva's impressive technique is for nothing. We might as well be watching some ghoulish wildlife documentary about a lion working his way through a herd of wildebeest.