Director: Victor Salva

JEEPERS CREEPERS 2 (2003)So you have a horror film that becomes an unexpected sleeper hit, but can't think of any way to do a sequel? Just set it a few days later and let 'er rip, of course. That's what Victor Salva's done with Jeepers Creepers 2.

We begin in a cornfield, with young Billy Taggart (Shaun Flemming) putting up scarecrows. Turns out one of them isn't what it appears to be; it's actually the demonic Creeper (Jonathan Breck). He snatches up the boy and flies into the sunset, with his father Jack (Ray Wise) and brother Jack Jr. (Luke Edwards). The next day, we meet a school bus on a road in the middle of nowhere. Get used to seeing the bus, because a good 90 percent of the movie takes place in and around it. We discover that it's four days after the events of the original Jeepers Creepers, and it's the final day of the Creeper's 23-day feeding frenzy. If you'll remember the detail from the prior movie, the Creeper gets to eat for 23 days following a 23-year hibernation. Why he has to follow such a strict schedule, I have no clue. One would assume a flesh-eating monster from the bowels of Hell would have a little bit more in his itinerary. He only gets out for a month every two decades, so you'd think he'd wanna see the sights between meals.

Anyway, the bus is loaded with a bunch of teenagers returning home from a victory in the state's championship basketball games. We're introduced to some of our stereotypical main characters, which include Scott, the racist (Eric Nenninger), Deaundre, the token black guy (Garikayi Mutambirwa), Bucky, the geek (Billy Aaron Brown), Izzy, who everyone thinks is gay (Travis Schiffner), and Minxie, the goody-two-shoes cheerleader (Nicki Aycox). The guys are celebrating their victory, when BAM! A tire blows. The driver and the coaches get out to check out the problem, and discover a ninja throwing star made out of bone embedded in the wheel. The driver decides to limp along the road, until BAM! Another throwing star pops a tire. It's worth noting that these stars are some hardcore stuff. The first one had a tooth stuck in it; the second had the belly button of the Creeper's prey in the first movie (which is evidenced by the tattoo). So we've had bone throwing stars with body parts stuck in them. I wonder what the third one would be made out of. A nose? An eyeball, maybe? I don't know, but they're pretty cool weapons.

By this point, everybody decides that the bus isn't going anywherewhere. Their repeated cries for help over the CB radio go unanswered as the Creeper picks off random people on the bus, one by one. He starts with the driver and the coaches, then starts terrorizing the students. Pretend that you're an immortal demon with one day before you go into hibernation, and you've got a buffet of stupid, scared teenagers right there for the taking. You've got two options: A.) Climb on board and start eating, or B.) jam the door, make goo-goo eyes at them, and lick the windows. If you picked Option B, then congratulations! You too can star in a Jeepers Creepers sequel! Meanwhile, while the Creeper decides to freak out the kids by looking at them funny, Minxie starts having weird nightmares about Darry Jenner (Justin Long, reprising his role from the original Jeepers Creepers) warning them about the Creeper, and the two remaining Taggarts craft a giant harpoon gun out of some farm equipment before declaring hunting season on man-eating monsters with wings.

The rest of the movie flies by in an endless blur of empty scares. None of the characters on the bus are very redeeming at all, and some of them aren't even given names or introduced or anything. Why should I worry about them getting eaten when I don't give a damn about any of them? While I enjoyed the original Jeepers Creepers, the sequel just comes across as being a lot less. More characters means a bigger menu for the Creeper, but it also means that we don't get to know the characters as well as we did in the original. It's also too bad that Gina Phillips refused to come back for this one, because her character's strength was something that the characters lacked here. The only characters that I didn't want to see get eaten at one point or the other were the Taggarts.

On the subject of the Taggarts, the lack of screen time they got bugged me to no end. They're the ones that had the personal vendetta against the Creeper, yet we spend more time with the paper-thin losers on the bus than with them. If they're on a huge Ahab-esque quest, isn't that worth following? And what was the point of having sexually-confused characters and racial tension in the movie if they were barely gonna touch on that at all? Both subplots felt horrendously tacked on and unnecessary, and I just didn't get the purpose. It didn't bring anything to the movie at all. What I also didn't like was the repetitive action sequences. Even though they started off being cool, they just started to seem like the same thing over and over. Why not spice things up a bit? Maybe let the Creeper go crazy with that huge battle-axe he had in the first movie. Another thing I seriously missed was the Creepermobile. That was one mean truck, but they just totally left it out here. It would have been cool to see the Creeper ram into the bus with his truck instead of swooping down on it a million times.

The movie isn't all bad, though. There's plenty of cool effects. The Creeper looks much more horrific and monstrous (not to mention slimy and disgusting) than in the prior movie, and there are some neat moments (such as the Creeper growing a new head after getting stabbed in the face with a javelin). Nicky Aycox and Ray Wise turn in watchable performances (which is more than I can say for the rest of the cast), and Jonathan Breck's portrayal of the Creeper, while not as menacing as in the prior movie, is really... well, creepy. I didn't wanna say "creepy," due to the obvious pun, but sometimes you just can't avoid things. I also liked Bennett Salvay's extremely tense score, which I found to be really similar (but in a good way) to his score for the first movie.

Overall, I found Jeepers Creepers 2 to be a disappointment. I liked the first Jeepers Creepers, but found this one to be lacking the depth of its predecessor. Sure, the first movie had its bad moments, but the sequel was just "blah" almost all the way through. That's why I'm going to give Jeepers Creepers 2 two and a half stars. No more, no less. If there's ever a third Jeepers Creepers, maybe it won't be as big of a letdown as this one.

Final Rating: **