Jeepers Creepers 2
I thought that “Jeepers Creepers” had the best first 30 minutes or so of horror that I’d seen in years. Pity that the rest of the movie didn’t live up to the intensely creepy build-up of those first ominous scenes out in the country. As soon as the movie showed the monster and tried to embed it in legend, the whole plot collapsed into jumbled incoherence. To put it succinctly, “Jeepers Creepers” sucked.
So, why did I bother renting “Jeepers Creepers 2”? Because the previews made it look much more like a standard monster flick, and I was curious to see if the sequel could redeem the concept. Unfortunately, the answer is “no.” Although more evenly paced and more clearly situated within the teen slasher subgenre, than its predecessor, “Jeepers Creepers 2” is still incoherent and illogical.
The Creeper’s biology makes absolutely no sense. The story is that it hunts for 23 days every 23 years, which means its previous jaunts would have been in 1980 and 1957, which means the slaughter and mutilation should have been reported in the media and is not likely to have been forgotten in a small country county like the one in this movie. Of course, this assumes the movie action took place in 2003, which is fair because cell phones are depicted, but that doesn’t explain why the kids at the end of the movie are driving up 23 years later in a 1950s pickup. Kiss chronological sense goodbye.
Although not apparently undead, The Creeper survives incredible damage and regenerates/grafts new body parts in a matter of minutes. Its wings never move its clothing (we can forgive the fact that they’re so well hidden beneath its rags — no doubt he keeps his wings in the same pocket where the Highlander and Blade keep their weapons). And although monsters are traditionally superhuman in strength, this one violates all laws of mass and physics as it pulls along a pickup truck while in midair. Jonathan Breck doesn’t even get to give The Creeper an interesting personality; The Creeper runs more along the lines of Jason and Michael Meyers than Freddy or Pinhead, or hell, even Chucky of the Leprechaun. And all of us who watched “Freddy vs. Jason” know which of the two was more entertaining.
The ensemble cast tries for characterization but fails; character points are brought up and never developed, such as the repeated suggestions that Izzy may be gay. Why bring it up if it never makes a difference in the movie? To exploit teenage homophobia? The story weaknesses continue. The kids find javelins on the bus but only one ever gets used. What happened to the others? In one scene three kids preposterously survive a crash that should have turned them into chunky red salsa. Even the rope in this movie puts Galadriel’s gift to Sam to shame, tearing through sheet metal like a garrote through flesh. Moreover, the movie uses the cheap and unexplained “Psychic Girl” ploy to provide exposition that would have been better provided by some adult or another who’d survived the last movie or at least studied the mystery murders of 23 years ago. The scrappy farmer in the movie would have been a perfect character to provide exposition without resorting to lame genre cliches.
What’s worst of all is that the movie takes itself seriously. All of these flaws could be forgiven if writer/director Victor Salva had gone for a campy edge, but no — he’s actually trying to scare you. And he fails, miserably.
It’s as though Salva forgot that horror fans have brains. We’re willing to suspend disbelief, sure, but there’s a point at which one gets tired of being treated like an imbecile. Just because it’s horror doesn’t mean internal logic and realism can be ignored. The writers of “Jeepers Creepers 2” would have done well to remember the runaway success of horror movies like “Exorcist,” “Scream” and “The Ring” — movies that show some respect for the genre and for the viewer.
Which isn’t to say that there aren’t some moments worth watching. You just gotta love it when the farmer starts building their monster-killing weapons. He knows he’s in a horror movie and he’s doing something about it, not just screaming and running. High camp potential there — think Bruce Campbell in “Army of Darkness” or the grandfather’s last line in “Lost Boys” — but it’s played straight, unfortunately. Betty Bannon, the bus driver, is one cool lady. Tough and no-nonsense, it was nice to see a strong and older woman in a horror movie for a change (other than Jamie Lee Curtis). Of course, it’s not good to be an adult in a teen movie, but still, maybe there’s hope for the future.
It may be a sign of my age that I started hoping the monster eats all the obnoxious teenagers. How long can I be expected to watch self-centered teens argue with each other and not start cheering for The Creeper, after all?
The DVD includes two audio commentaries (which strikes me as pretentious for a low-budget horror flick), a “making of” sequence of clips, deleted scenes (don’t bother), photo gallery, storyboards, the theatrical trailer, and so forth, retrieved in a linear fashion.
Among the deleted scenes — unfortunately strung together so you need to watch the trivial along with the potentially interesting, and almost all of it is trivial — there’s a point at which the characters are discussing fighting the monster and make the kind of “don’t you watch horror movies” comment that so needed to be made in this movie ... why was it cut? I’m tired of watching horror movies in which the characters apparently come from an alternate American culture that doesn’t include horror, suspense, or thriller movies. That’s why “Scream” and its sequels were so cool — the teens got it. They came from the same culture as the viewers, and they defended themselves accordingly. One also wonders why the director chose not to film the “Creeper’s Lair” sequence (shown in storyboard), which looks like it had potential for imaginative grue.
Final word: Skip it. There are lots of good horror movies out there ... rent one of them.