Jeepers Creepers II
review by Gregory Avery, 8 August 2003

At one point in Jeepers Creepers II, a group of teenagers huddle together inside a broken-down bus, training a flashlight at a creature -- it looks human, but also looks like it's not -- peering at them, upside down, with great, bright eyes, from the other side of a window. It senses them (literally), wags a finger at them, smacks its lips, and then WINKS at them before -- whoosh! -- disappearing, leaving the teenagers -- and the audience -- to cower.

I wasn't expecting much from this movie – then again, I wasn't expecting much from the 2001 film to which this is a sequel -- but, in both instances, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself diverted as it went about aspiring to doing nothing more than entertain us with a good-and-scary story for a while. As in the previous film, the creature is a fast, agile, nefarious predator of mythical proportions that arises after twenty-three years of dormancy to prey upon humans for a twenty-three-day period. It can be slowed but not necessarily stopped, which doesn't bode well for the people upon whom it casts an eye. In the new movie, it's a high school basketball team returning from a championship victory when one of the tires on their bus blows after being hit by something that's sharp and has a human tooth embedded in its center. The high schoolers quickly find that they must fend for themselves and contend with an increasingly dangerous and uncertain situation while terror lets loose around them.

Victor Salva wrote and directed this and the previous film, and he shows a talent for creating believable characters and believable situations into which fantastical and harrowing elements are introduced. The new film lacks the strong brother-sister relationship that drew us into the earlier film, but Salva handles the multiple characters, here, so that they don't turn into an undifferentiated mass. They include a star team player (Eric Nenninger) unhappy because he remained on the bench for most of the winning game, and another player (Garikayi Mutambirwa) who does not relish being singled-out by the creature, but isn't giving in without a fight, either; a school paper  sports reporter (Travis Schiffner) who seems to be devoting a lot of space to writing about one of the basketball team players in particular; a bus driver (Diane Delano) who doesn't mind having a smoke with the girls; and a cheerleader (Nicki Aycox) who gets a premonition of what's about to happen to them (replete with Justin Long reprising his character from the 2001 film).

There are also the Taggarts, patriarch Jack (Ray Wise) and older son Jack, Jr., or Jackie (Luke Edwards) -- they see one of their family members carried off by the creature during a fairly dazzling sequence that opens the film, and they show up later, at a fortuitous time for the stranded high schoolers, fully prepared to avenge what has been wreaked upon their family by an evil interloper.

Rather than just give us jolts to which we are supposed to respond (like the "dancing" ducks that respond to electroshocks in Jerzy Kozinski's novel Blind Date), the picture sits down to tell is a story about what happens to a bunch of characters -- the result being, like a good story or campfire tale, a fun experience which releases some cathartic chills in us before it's over. And the ending, rest assured, is, in the best William S. Burroughs sense, quite elegant.

Written and
Directed by:

Victor Salva

Ray Wise
Luke Edwards
Eric Nenninger
Garikayi Mutambirwa
Travis Schiffner
Billy Aaron Brown
Nicki Aycox
Diane Delano
Justin Long 
Jonathan Breck

Written by:
Raymond Bernard
Jean-José Frappa

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult






  Copyright © 1996-2005 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.