Jeepers Creepers 2

Jeepers Creepers 2 (15)

“Every 23rd spring, for 23 days, it gets to eat.”

So goes the narration at the opening of this horror sequel – a film that breaks with established tradition by beginning days after the end of its predecessor.

In Jeepers Creepers a nail-biting chase across the boondocks of America ends with a supernatural villain – demon, alien or something in between – taking the eyes of the hero as the soundtrack warbles “Jeepers, creepers – where’d you get those peepers…?”

And as the outside world begins to get a grip on some of the nocturnal horrors that have taken place, the giant, flesh-eating monster flies off in search of new prey for, as the legend goes, it only has 23 days in which to sate itself. And today is day 22…

Jeepers Creepers 2 begins in fine style with the abduction of a farm boy from his father’s fields. To a soundtrack of anguished screams, the swishing or corn and the beating of huge wings the boy is lifted high into the sky as his father (the terrific and laconic Ray Wise) and brother watch helplessly.

Yet the father wears a look that appears to suggest he’s seen this before. Staring into his space, his mind elsewhere, he is suddenly galvanised into action. He will find this otherworldly thing, and destroy it.

Meanwhile a busload of college kids is heading home after a basketball game. Their bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, making them a prime target for the winged thing scouring the land for victims. First it takes the team coach, then the bus driver. Finally it lands on the bus itself to take a closer look at those it wants. Over the next few hours, many will die.

Unlike many of the summer’s tired sequels Jeepers Creepers 2 is a straight continuation of the first film by the same writer/director, Victor Salva. And, as in the initial movie, Salva plays with convention by setting up characters as heroes, losers and would-be victims, only to bump them off.

The movie is packed with shocks, many of them extremely effective. A knife leaps from the farmer’s hand, apparently surging with a life of its own. The beast, disguised as a scarecrow, suddenly lifts its wings in a harbinger of the gore to come. Victims disappear into the night sky as they are swooped upon by this bat out of hell. Fright fans will love it.

Another cat and mouse chiller, Jeepers Creepers 2 is nevertheless weakened by audiences’ familiarity with the monster at the heart of the tale. It also contains arguably too many characters plus a black vs. white subplot that gets in the way of the shocks and thrills.

Still, the idea of setting the majority of the action inside a single location – a wrecked bus – works well in creating a melting pot of panic, fear and other necessary emotions, while the frequent glimpses of the slavering, lip-licking creature will delight those who get their kicks from being scared silly.

Jeepers Creepers 2 concludes with an epilogue set 23 years in the future, thus leaving open the prospect of a second sequel. This one, as they say, could run and run.

Star rating: ***

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