In 2001, Jeepers Creepers reenergized the monster movie with a slick and suspenseful presentation. In 2003, director Victor Salva tries to capitalize on the hit of his career with a sequel, and fails miserably.
Jeepers Creepers II picks up days after the original, as a group of high school students are returning home from a championship game. After their bus is damaged, basically leaving them as sitting ducks, they begin to get picked off one by one by The Creeper (Jonathan Breck), who eats body parts to replenish his own. Their only hope is a farmer whose son was just recently murdered by the creature - he is out for revenge. Of course, how can you kill a monster that cannot be killed?
Jeepers Creepers II lacks just about everything that made the first one so good. In the first movie, the monster wasn't revealed until about halfway through the film; the original Jeepers Creepers was much scarier when it seemed as though the killer was a real person, not a monster. This time around, director Victor Salva seems to think that his Creeper is worth showing as much as possible; the monster is not scary. What makes a good horror movie is suspense and creepiness, not various shots of a stupid-looking monster flying around.
Another element that made the original good was that it veered away from the typical horror movie where a group of dumb teenagers get picked off one by one. The original had only two main characters, a brother and sister, who not only were fairly smart but also quite believable; the actors were good. Here, Salva has reverted back to the stereotypical horror film by casting a bunch of terrible actors as a team of high school jocks. These people are so stupid that even after they learn that they are being hunted by a hideous creature, they start fighting over racism and homosexuality. The acting and dialogue go hand-in-hand to make a truly terrifying experience (that's not a good thing).
To make matters even worse, the plot sucks. The whole movie reminded me of Tremors 2 (that's not a good thing, either), as some dumb farmer begins to hunt down the creature. Somehow he manages to create a harpoon gun out of materials he had lying around the house, and this harpoon gun is perfectly accurate. How does this guy know that his son is dead? Shouldn't he try to capture the creature alive to interrogate him? That would just make too much sense.
The one thing that Salva has kept from the original is the annoying psychological connection between one of the characters and the creature (or the victims?). I always hate when a director tries to explain a movie through a character that is seemingly psychic; in the first movie, Salva had an incredibly annoying woman tell the brother and sister tell them about the monster's motives. Here, one of the cheerleaders has a dream about Justin Long (the brother in the first movie), who tells her that this creature kills for 23 days every 23 years. Why? It's cheesy, and it's a waste of time.
Essentially, Salva has removed everything that was good from the original to make Jeepers Creepers II. There isn't a single scary moment in the entire movie, and the monster is just plain cheesy. This film is dead on arrival.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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