o fully appreciate "Jeepers Creepers 2" I
believe one must first endure a lot of really, really bad Teen Slashers.
Otherwise the film may seem a bit...underwhelming. "JC 2" is the
sequel to 2001's enjoyable "Jeepers
Creepers", about a supernatural killer that preys on passing motorists
in a small town. In the original, a sister and brother team had to take on the
winged creature, with bloody results. Although the siblings managed to expose
the creeper's killing spree (it had been killing for centuries), the creeper
managed to survive, although one of the siblings didn't.
"JC 2" picks up days after the events of the
original, with the creeper still on the loose. Only now the screenplay informs
us that the creeper (Jonathan Breck) only kills every 23 years for 23 days,
after which it has to go back into hibernation, or some such. After the creeper
snatches up his young son on day 22, farmer Jack Taggart (Ray Wise) is
determined to get revenge. With day 23 arriving, the creeper has found new
targets: a busload of highschoolers on their way home from a basketball game.
After the creeper sabotages their ride, the kids are trapped in the open country
road, with darkness fast approaching and no help in sight. Can farmer Taggart
save them in time?
If memory serves, the inclusion of the creeper's 23-year
timetable is a new addition. Although the film gets jumpstarted with the death
of Taggart's son, the real exposition is provided via convenient radio
broadcasts and Salva giving one of the kids on the bus psychic powers, allowing
the teen to learn about the creeper via past victim Darry (Justin Long, in a
cameo). Much of "JC2" is played straightforward, with the bus falling
victim to the Creeper's throwing stars forged out of human bone and skin. In
short order, the adults are (literally) picked off by the winged killer, who
then returns for the kids.
As expected, there are cliques within the students,
including the white and black jocks, the nerds, and the cheerleaders. King Jock
is played by Eric Nenninger, who Salva uses to inject racial and homophobic
tension into the film. Not that it matters. You would think having a busload of
teens being hunted by a giant, invincible killing machine would be enough
tension. The characters themselves are pretty standard stuff. Eric Nenninger's
King Jock eventually gets a bit grating, and Nicki Lynn Aycox as the sudden
psychic cheerleader provides the film with some unintentional laughs. As one
character points out, one minute Aycox is jumping up and down with pom-poms and
the next she's Miss Cleo. Also, despite having gone through just two very
confusing visions, Minxie sure makes some very grand proclamations about the
Creeper. Why, it's like she read the screenplay or something!
The treat of "JC2" is Ray Wise, whose character
has surprisingly little screentime. Much of the film gets taken up with the
Creeper and his many assaults on the kids. In an amusing twist, the Creeper has
developed a sense of humor, if not overt flirtatious behavior. Does licking
glass with your tongue in a seductive manner qualify as flirting? Well probably
not, especially since you plan on eating the young boys you're
Watching "JC 2" one gets the feeling that
writer/director Victor Salva is trying to test himself, first with the sudden
shift in narrative tone. Most of the sequel's 100 minutes are filled with
tension and suspense, as the kids try different ways to avoid the Creeper's
continued attacks on their bus. It's like Salva is trying to find out how many
ways he can keep the story moving and interesting and still not move away from
the lone stranded bus locale. As a result, almost 70% of the film takes place
inside the tight confines of -- and the dangerous ground around -- the bus.
Of course any self-test Salva might have been under
eventually gives way to exterior action sequences. Which leads us to the film's
post-hour mark, where the teen characters lose all semblance of intelligence and
does things they aren't supposed to. They not only run out of the bus when they
shouldn't, but they also stay in the bus when they shouldn't. With the dropping
of the IQ, the action quotient gets a big jump -- at about the same time Taggart
and his remaining son finally show up at the scene.
Salva makes Taggart's grudge against the Creeper an obvious
parallel to Ahab and his quest for Moby Dick. Hell, Taggart even outfits a giant
harpoon onto his truck and is willing to risk everything, even his remaining
son, to kill the elusive whale -- er, supernatural creature. Of course making
Taggart and the Creeper's throwdown taking place just a short day after the
death of Taggart's son sort of diminishes much of the seething, everlasting
anger Taggart is supposed to be going through. Salva might have done better to
eject the 23-day angle completely, if just to give Taggart more time to soak in
his loss and provide him with credible time to outfit his truck into a
Creeper-killing vehicle. One day seems just a tad quick.
"JC 2" is by no means a great film, but it is a
good one, especially if you've been disappointed by a lot of Teen Slashers out
there right now. It's probably too straightforward for its own good, and the
middle, when the Creeper calmly takes its time assaulting the bus, might be a
bit too slow for the teen crowd. Still, the film has enough action, suspense,
and good special effects to satisfy most people.