It took Victor Salva only two years to revisit his Creeper character, this time carrying over the desolate roadside setting and adding a bigger body count with a schoolbus full of teenage football players and their three cheerleaders. The original film found tension in the intimacy of the situation, with both Justin Long and Gina Philips remaining the primary target of the Creeper throughout. Jeepers Creepers 2, though, expands the Creeper’s mythology and explores different thematic territory even while remaining largely the same; the film becomes more complex, with Salva juggling two different subplots – the kids on the bus, and a father looking to get revenge after the Creeper kidnaps his son – to varying degrees of success.
The character expansion is both a blessing and a curse for this sequel. Salva has a lot more people for the Creeper (Jonathan Breck) to play with, and most of the time they happen to include shirtless teen boys sporting brawn, charisma, but not a lot of brain. It allows Jeepers Creepers 2 to do some development of characters and address the heavy-handed gay and racially-charged themes throughout the film, and Salva’s script emphasizes the harsh realities of being black or gay – or even suspected as gay – in high school. But these aren’t particularly strong scenarios, and a lot of the film’s script boils down to unlikable people yelling at each other about inane things that don’t really make sense in the situation – that situation being a flying ancient monster threatening to eat them to steal their organs.
[pullquote]Jeepers Creepers 2 takes the worst moments of the first film, like the kung-fu antics the Creeper pulls out in the final act, and amplifies it tenfold.[/pullquote]
Scotty (Eric Nenninger), the film’s presumed lead, is a wholly unlikable jerk, a person that most of the audience will root against because of his racist, sexist, homophobic behaviors. And Salva wavers around who the main character actually is, lacking a focal point for the audience; by treating each of the characters as relative equals, Salva misses out on developing atmosphere and pathos as he did in Jeepers Creepers.
In fact, there’s nothing within this sequel that’s as effective as the first film’s opening moments. Here again, Salva gets too close to his Creeper character, centering on his facial expressions and some slight black comedy rather than his eerie presence; Jeepers Creepers 2 takes the worst moments of the first film, like the kung-fu antics the Creeper pulls out in the final act, and amplifies it tenfold. Now the Creeper has homemade throwing stars to whip through cornfields, and he jump fifteen feet into the air despite lacking limbs.
Salva seems to be having some fun at his owncreature’s expense, and in some ways, that creates some fun – Jeepers Creepers 2, as a sequel, adopts the same mantra as most other horror sequels: if you can’t make it as scary as the first film, go for gags and gore instead. Still, the messy setup and grating character traits hinder scenes that could have had more impact.
Ray Wise, though, really shines as Jack Taggart Sr., a farmer who pursues the Creeper after he kidnaps his young son. Besides the shades of ickiness that this scenario produces given the prior sexual crimes of the film’s director, the storyline provides strong motivation for Taggart and makes for some great moments in the film’s last act. Wise is chewing scenery here, and Salva trades spooks for ridiculousness when Taggart produces a truck-mounted harpoon gun that attempts to reel the Creeper in like a flying shark.
Ultimately, though, Jeepers Creepers 2 is an inferior sequel to a mediocre film, and there’s definitely an exponential increase in the amount of cheese Salva infuses into the series. The Creeper is a flawed monster through and through, an often contradictory entity that the two movies never fully explain; Jeepers Creepers 2 does little more than add fodder for the monster, a poor copy of a formula that worked previously. It’s kind of like doubling the ingredients in a recipe and hoping the end result turns out the same as a single batch – the batch in question happens to include young rippling teens, and the end result isn’t nearly as tasty. [/cbtab]
[cbtab title=”Video/Audio/Special Features Review”]
Scream Factory’s release of Jeepers Creepers 2 is incredibly similar to the first film, and it gets all of the same treatment – a double-disc collection with new cover artwork, reversible art, and dual audio commentaries. The video, however, doesn’t get the upgraded 2K scan, and presumably this is the same video used on the double-feature Blu-Ray released previously. With that said, it’s not a bad HD transfer by far, and there’s no damage, grain, or issues to speak of besides an overwhelmingly orange color palette that I found somewhat off-putting because of the overall hue.
As for audio, there are two tracks: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio or 2.0. I watched the 5.1 and it sounds very good, on par with the first film’s Blu-Ray release, although the soundtrack doesn’t make heavy use of the side speakers besides the theme music.
Extra features basically mimic what was on the first film as well. There’s a new featurette called “Jeepers Creepers 2: Then and Now,” with interviews from Victor Salva, Don FauntLeRoy, Ed Marx, and Tom Tarantini documenting the creative process behind the film and the effects 9/11 had on its release. Also new to this disc is an interview with Ray Wise about his role, who seems to love the Jeepers Creepers franchise. “Don’t Get Off the Bus” is a featurette with interviews from various supporting actors within the film including Thom Gossom Jr. and Diane Delano.
The two audio commentaries are not new, but they are included on the first disc: one from Victor Salva and the cast and one from Jonathan Breck, Brad Parker, and Brian Penikas. Other supplemental material also comes from the prior release, including storyboards, four featurettes with more interviews, trailers, deleted scenes, and an effects reel. Even though these were already available, it’s nice to have everything in one definitive package, and these extras make this Jeepers Creepers 2 Blu-Ray another must-own collector’s edition from Scream Factory. [/cbtab][/cbtabs]