Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The 23rd Day: Jeepers Creepers II (2003)

Jeepers Creepers II (2003)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jonathan Breck, Ray Wise, Nicki Aycox

Back in 2001, controversial director Victor Salva introduced one of horror's modern icons. A fresh concept of a monster simply dubbed as The Creeper, notoriously known for hunting victims to eat certain parts that it likes from them and uses said munched parts to replace its own whenever needed. Another discernible trait about this creature is this rule: it's only awake for every 23rd Spring for 23 days, a rule Salva thought up to make sure his movie wouldn't get butchered for sequels. 

But then, here we are; reading a review about a sequel that existed thanks to loop holes.

It is the 23rd day of the Creeper's cycle, a few while after the first movie ended and our monster has chosen a busload of jocks, cheerleaders and other miscellaneous munchables as its final meal before slumbering for the next 23 years. Trapping the youngsters at an abandoned highway by repeatedly slicing their bus' tires with home-made throwing stars (made from welded and sharpened bones), the Creeper strikes at nightfall, effortlessly doing away all the adults before taking its time to pick a prized meal.

As the teens try their best to defend themselves from the Creeper, little do both know that a distraught father and brother of a previous victim are not too far ahead, hellbent on taking revenge on the creature.

While the first movie started out as a typical slasher movie before venturing into a monster flick, Jeepers Creepers II molded the two sub-genres into a workable mix, with the Creeper taking the spotlight more often now than it did in its last outing, showing off how much beyond a simple maniac it is. And true enough, we get to see how the horrid creature operates and what skills it has to do what it does, ranging from creating weapons from human parts to an impressive demonstration on how exactly the Creeper replaces its lost parts.

Much of the story takes place inside the bus, with a claustrophobic atmosphere and much survival drama driving the film forward into a satisfyingly high-octane climax involving a harpoon and a hobbled Creeper desperate to devour some limbs. Until then, the movie clutters around in balancing scares and characterization, much of it missing than hitting despite there being some interesting scenes, just not that many intriguing characters.

With so many victims to choose from, the Creeper only manages to kills off at least 3 to 4 on camera; hardly impressive or satisfactory seeing most of the count were "implied" offscreen murders (the worse type of slasher movie kill of all), which doesn't do much favor for its running time that clocks a near two hours. Those characters that were given a chance to act out more than their nameless teammates either ended up being jerks, bickering with one another, or have random visions foretelling them what they are up against, seemingly out of nowhere, making them unlikely to be all that root-worthy. But, then again, they are stuck inside disabled bus in the middle of nowhere with a hungry creature outside waiting to eat them; panic can bring out the worst of people so I am giving the unsatisfactory characterization a slide. Save the random vision. Seriously, it's like the Final Destination films all over again.

At least the monster effects are well worth it, especially with the amazing creature make-up and all of those flying scenes that are a step above from the last movie. Cinematography is competent enough to make this movie look easy on the eyes and add some creative take on the mythos from time to time.

It may not be as creepy or scary as the first film (and I'm not saying it isn't), Jeepers Creepers II made it worthwhile being an entertaining monster-slasher hybrid. While it could have done better by adding some more action pieces or a few worthy deaths in the middle to keep the momentum strong, the fact that it has more Creeper being otherworldly and out of the shadows, it does deserves its fans and a chance to be seen for fun.

1 boy killed, later seen with head wound
1 male snatched away killed
1 female snatched away, killed
1 male snatched away, killed
1 male and 1 female missing, presumably killed
1 male had his head torn off
1 male hit on the head with a throwing star
1 male snatched away, killed
1 male missing, presumably killed
1 male crushed inside a toppled car, immolated in explosion
Total: 11

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