"Jeepers Creepers 2" is a lazy movie and I hate lazy movies. I hate movies that give us at least 40% of the essential plot information through the form of a radio news brief. At just the right moment, the radio is always at the sufficient volume for the main characters to hear, as the narrator tells a gruesome event in such detail that this kind of radio address is simply implausible. What is even worse is how the other 60% is told--through a character who is unexplainably clairvoyant and capable of seeing the immediate future through dream sequences.
Quickly give me the name of a horror movie that doesn't have a psychic character, I bet you can't. Even "The Ring," last year's horror masterpiece had a gifted child, but the main character still had to investigate and learn things on her own. In even better movies, critical points are left unexplained and for the audience to figure out.
In "Jeepers Creepers 2" a girl tells us that a mysterious creature emerges from hibernation every 23rd spring and gets to eat for 23 days, which is basically every 23 years for about a month. She tells us--remember she only knows this from her dreams--that the creature picks his victims by a selection process in which he senses their fears. She will go on to explain a few more things, and whatever she doesn't is told through a radio newscast heard over the school bus radio: Somewhere hidden near a church the bodies of over 300 victims have been found. Interestingly, not one of the cadavers was a complete corpse; each body had a part or appendage missing. Also keep in mind that the way this is explained is much more grim than how I am, and you could imagine something like this would never be heard over the radio.
When the movie opens, we are told through subtitles that is day 22. A young boy is restoring and maintaining a row of scarecrows on his father's farm. The father, Jack Taggart (Ray Wise), is preoccupied with other work, the older brother is under the car for some reason, and the dog is barking. While securing one of the scarecrows, the child notices one of them is moving, and begins running. He screams for his father and soon enough they spot it as an enormous creature with wings starts swooping in the sky ready to strike. The scene closes with the father looking on in horror.
Now on day 23, we see a school bus driving down a dusty highway after a victorious game in the state-wide basketball championship. As the camera pans down the narrow aisle we see the men chanting the school song loud and boastful as if that is what high school jocks really do on the way home from road games.
There appears to be about 20-something basketball players and like three or four cheerleaders. Surprisingly, there is little focus on the cheerleaders. You'd expect there to be some sexual tension thrown their way, but this movie is completely about the men. I don't know if writer/director Victor Salva purposely made it that way, but all of the focus on the men.
One of the school bus tires makes contact with a dagger-like weapon and it becomes ripped to shreds. The bus driver and both coaches exit the bus to investigate, determining that they don't know exactly what the sharp object is and that "it is as sharp as a son-of-a-bitch."
Not going anywhere, the students are led off the bus and about six of them decide to sunbathe on the roof of the bus. Most of the other guys who aren't catching rays still walk around shirtless and converse in small groups. Disturbingly, most of them also urinate in groups as well. Twice we see a group of about five guys standing shoulder to shoulder while relieving themselves. These guys are in a giant open field with trees and cornstalks everywhere and these guys could literally be stepping on each others' shoes.
But enough small bickering, let's get down to why the film is horrible. Characters start getting picked off one by one and the remaining survivors figure out the smartest thing is to stay inside the school bus. This is unfortunate for us because we have to be in there with them, as each character has the responsibility of expelling out painful lines of dialogue that could only come from a poor script.
I imagined what it would have been like I were one of those kids on the bus. I imagine in real life that after witnessing a few characters being snatched from the sky it would be a little unsettling. These guys would be panicking, yelling in total chaos, scared out of their minds without any order. But not these kids. The extras remain silent while the main characters wait their turn to recite their dialogue. They run back and forth looking through the windows as they see the creature fly and prepare for another swooping attack.
At first they don't know what or who the creature is, that is until a cheerleader named Minxie (Nicki Lynn Aycox) begins having visions and soon explains everything to her peers. We see the dreams and sure they're artistic and have a creepy effect, but they're also completely unwarranted. After she explains how the creeper works, he soon appears and picks out his victims by a showing a malicious smile. Soon the group doesn't feel safe inside the bus and departs when they believe the creature has left for good.
This leads up to a horrible ending where Jack Taggart returns to avenge his son's death by attempting to kill the creeper with a homemade spear gun. That's right, a homemade spear gun using a knife made by the creeper himself as the tip of the weapon. (A close examination of the weapons used including the one that ripped up the tires show that they were made from human body parts. They also show that the creeper is an excellent craftsman.)
The only person who gets credit for this film is Richard Radlefsen who did the creature makeup and costume. The creature was played by Jonathan Breck, but like "Charlie's Angels," most of the creeper is engaged in CGI activity. Rarely do we see the creeper when is his being played by Breck in costume and makeup, not by PC Windows. And yes the creeper looks awesome, but his first-rate appeal is useless in this movie.
The film is not scary at all as the wide camera angles immediately tell us when the creeper is about to strike, and the characters are so plain and have nothing of intelligence to say that much of time I found myself bored; not a good sign when watching a horror movie.
The constant bickering from the characters (when it's their time to speak) is utterly annoying and always an argument about race or sexuality. One player (Eric Nenninger) is angry because he only played 10 minutes in the championship game and believes this because he is the "token white player." I was puzzled by his statement because out of the 20 players only about four of them are black, how can one out of 15 be a token? Another character (Travis Schiffner) is constantly ridiculed because everyone thinks he's gay. His name is Izzy but they wonder if it's "Izzy" or "Isn't he." It's only a matter of time before we start wishing for their deaths.
The way the film is constructed in the first half looks pretty good, and I often say that about a lot of movies because the fist half (the stuff shown in trailers) is sometimes decent, but unfortunately the filmmakers forget that movies are longer than 15 minutes; in this case about 100. The second half can be described as boring and the last scene is pitiful; not even trying to scare us one last time, or first for some of us.
Fans of the first film will be interested in the sequel regardless of what I or any other critic say, but the mainstream should stay clear of this. "Jeepers Creepers 2" looks good on the outside, but jeepers creepers, there's nothing on the inside.
A Shocking Note: Still curious as to why so much attention was put on the males in the film, I recently learned while reading Paul West's review published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that writer/director Victor Salva once served jail time for sexually abusing a young boy. Is there a correlation between his life and his movies, I do not know, but I thought it was worth mentioning.