This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
The screening of this started out alright. There were lots of nice adverts for some lovely things I could buy, then there was a whole bunch of trailers for lots of other films that I’ll end up seeing. Things went south once the credits started to roll for Jeepers Creepers 2.
I can’t say I was looking forward to this in any way. The first film was strangely well received by critics and audiences alike, which I can only put down to some strange group hallucination. I though it started passably well, when it was just a scary guy in a strangely fast truck bothering some kids. As soon as Mr Creeper sprouted wings and started flying about eating people it turned into a bog-standard slasher movie minus the gore and I pretty much stopped paying attention. Unfortunately for this unnecessary follow-up ‘bog-standard’ remains a lofty, far-off goal that it’s never in any danger of reaching.
Set a few days after the events of the first movie, this instalment follows the further adventures of the Creeper as he pretends to be a scarecrow in a field to eat a small child. These whacky hijinks later come back to bite him on the arse, as the loss of his son peeves farmer Jack Taggart (Ray Wise) enough to have a fit of A-Team histrionics and convert his pick-up truck into the Harpooninator 3000, devoted to finding and spearing The Creeper (Jonathan Breck, covered in tar.).
While he’s busting out the arc-welding equipment a bus full of irritating teenagers, returning from a championship winning basketball game develops a flat tyre. The culprit appears to be a shuriken made of ivory or some kind of bone according to one of the soon to be vanquished adults, demonstrating a stunning grasp of nature’s wonders. Unable to raise any response on the radio or any of their mobile phones, they decide to limp on regardless. Why the scriptwriters bothered writing this in when the next significant event is that another tyre falls victim to Dave Creepers’ bone-iken, I’m not altogether sure. I suppose it was to allow one of the teen victims some time to mump his gums about perceived racism on the team, and his being too white to receive equal play time. This is perhaps supposed to heighten tension and perhaps suggest split factions or a subtle power struggle in the soon to be BUS OF TERROR, but every single man jack on the bus is too faceless, characterless and dull to care about in the slightest.
The bus now utterly rodgered, the adults pointlessly set flares out in front and behind the bus, as though the large flashing halogen lights weren’t obvious enough on a flat, straight piece of Interstate in the middle of nowhere where even a blind man could see the bus from approximately five miles in either direction. The point, of course is to separate one of the adults from the rest so Dave Creeper can swoop down and carry him into the night. This freaks out everyone, more so when the driver and other adult guy are dealt with in terminal, non-gory fashion. The remaining teens lock themselves inside the BUS OF TERROR
The next hour-ish is spent with the lads and ladies of the BUS OF TERROR being harassed by Dave, pausing only for a pointless psychic episode on the part of the cheerleader, Minxie. She faints and has a dream where one of the dead kids from the last film tells her that Dave rises every 23 years for 23 days to feed on humans. This comes as a shocking revelation for some reason, despite the fact that by this point they’ve seen Dave’s modus operandii first hand. Minxie then pluck more random facts out of thin air that certainly weren’t said by the dead dream dude, and starts expounding on how it can’t be killed, bargained with, reasoned with, has picked out certain parts from certain members of the BUS OF TERROR club that he would like to eat, it’s shoe size is 9 and three quarters, it likes dancing the fandango, it has an elderly dog that bordered on incontinence, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m not sure what’s more galling, the fact that this information was wired directly into Minxie’s otherwise vacant head through some sort of wireless titbit transmission system or the fact that it’s entirely irrelevant anyway. It’s a flying thing that’s trying to kill them for some reason. That’s all they needed to know and they already knew it. If information was going to be magically pulled out of thin air then perhaps they could have explained exactly what sort of creature appears to eat for a few days then sleeps it off for 23 years? Is it some foul shade on holiday from hell? An alien is some sort of hibernation? As director/writer/convicted pederast Victor Salva doesn’t see fit to tell us I’ve decided that Dave Creeper is a disgruntled postal worker.
The scare-free and predictable killing continues for a while, making no effort to build any tension or use even cheap methods of inducing a shock. Witness the hole in the bus’ roof. Observe a victim wander over to hesitantly look up to see if Dave has gone. See my abject non-surprise as he is grabbed by the head and dragged upwards. Surely, absolutely anyone who’s seen a horror movie knows what going to happen? Even so, when situations like this occur it’s usually time to fire up the band and play the LOUDLY TERRIFYING ORCHESTRAL STABS OF ABJECT HORROR AND TERROR, but JC2 can’t even be bothered with that. It makes a half hearted attempt once then the soundtrack merges back in with the background shittyness of everything else, creating a brown and smelly cinematic experience.
Eventually Jack show up with the Harpooninator 3000 and skewers Dave. In a further, final insult to the audience two of the boys survive a high speed truck accident that involves a pick up truck flipping arse over tit about eight times, despite one guy not wearing a seatbelt and the other sitting in the open back of the truck. His miraculous survival is of no relief to anyone.
There’s two ways to play a horror movie. Straightforward, blood soaked splatter movies that shock rather than scare such as the Nightmare On Elm Street et al franchises. Generally these can be a bit of fun but the worst that’s going to happen is you’ll jump in a few places, due to aforementioned TERRIFYING ORCHESTRAL STABS accompanying the actual stabs. In these movies the survival of the victims is of no consequence because you paid to see the teens die in gruesome ways, so if the least irritating ones get somewhere near the final reel that’s a bonus. For this to succeed it’s vital that the chosen flavour of psycho be interesting, and that he/her/it offs his victims in suitably impressive ways.
Otherwise you go down the far harder to pull of route of leaving the audience genuinely unsettled. You’ll need a properly creepy and atmospheric soundtrack, some bone chilling imagery and usually no proper sightings of the scare-monger until the end of the film. The potential victim has to be interesting and well characterised so we want them to survive.
JC2 seems to be trying to find a third route, one combining the worst of the failed examples of either camp into a veritable carnival of awful. The characters are at best bland, the soundtrack ineffective, the death of the teens are tepid rather than terrifying, the scenery boring (Flat farmland. Yay), and the script seems to have been ghost-written by a special needs student.
The script seems to be taking great care to hammer home certain points like a jackhammer applied to an egg. To cite a trivial example, on finding the tyre ruptured by the bone-iken, the adults gather around it and have a conversation that sounds rather like,
“This thing is quite sharp.”
“Yes, it is sharp.”
“This thing must be sharp to puncture a tyre!”
“Yes, it must indeed be sharp”
“Hey, it’s a sharp thing!”
“Yes, the thing that punctured the tyre must be sharp.”
“I wonder how sharp it is…Oh, it is sharp,”
“Yes, it is sharp”
Okay, it’s sharp! I believe you! Jesus, you even show it hurtling through the air and I’ll accept it’s sharp without being bludgeoned by a blunt dialogue stick. It’s drivel of this nature that leads to no-one caring about the victims, and it’s poor design of Dave Creeper that stops anyone caring about him. Essentially its a bloke who looks like he’s been bathing in tar with some ropey CG wings. He never looks scary, never does anything scary, never says anything scary (or anything at all), never strikes up a scary tune on a banjo, ergo he is not scary. In a scary movie this is unforgivable.
We’re running out of ways to say ‘awful teen oriented horror’ what with this, Wrong Turn, Darkness Falls, Final Destination 2 and Dreamcatcher. Very few films in recent years have pulled off a proper scary, unsettling horror movie and I worry that the younger generation of film goers won’t know any better and start thinking that trash like this is what horror cinema is all about. The remake of The Ring and it’s original Japanese version remain the few films of lately that manage it, with a fair stab had by Bill Paxton’s underrated Frailty. Slashers have faired better, with Jason Vs. Freddy and Dog Soldiers getting it more or less right. Please don’t waste your money on this rubbish. Either seek out one of the above movies or put the fiver towards the downright creepy The Omen instead.
We aren’t film snobs here. We don’t think that all good films have to be in a foreign language and feature at least one suicidally depressed character and half an hour of sullen introspection. Personally, I like all sorts of trashy movies. If I can’t be scared by a movie at least it can attempt to entertain me for it’s duration, but Jeepers Creepers 2 fails to do that. As such, it can consider it’s meagre rating a blessing as I can’t think of any positive points to mention.