The underlying motivation for a sequel is always financial from a studio’s standpoint. For the filmmakers, it can be a variety of things: a desire to maintain stature in the business, a wish to make easy money after a period of struggling and sometimes, even trying to top their previous work.
The latter reason came into play for the makers of Jeepers Creepers when it was sequel time. The first film had to deal with studio interference that led to a scaling down of the monster moments at the last minute. The sequel gave them a bigger budget and a second chance to do what they didn’t get to do the first time – and Jeepers Creepers 2 takes full advantage of both of those attributes.
Jeepers Creepers 2 maintains its monster but adds in a new, larger set of potential victims. In this storyline, the main target is a sports team returning from a game through the countryside on a school bus. The Creeper (Jonathan Breck) disables the bus and begins toying with the group, which includes Scotty (Eric Nenninger), a major player with a Darwinian mindset, his rival Double D (Garikaya Mutambirwa), the team’s resident misfit Izzy (Travis Schiffner) and Minxie (Nicki Aycox), a cheerleader who seems to have some sort of psychic premonitory link with the Creeper. As the Creeper begins to pick away at their ranks, their one hope lies in farmer Jack Taggart (Ray Wise), who has lost a loved one to the Creeper and has plans for a rematch.
The results make for a genuinely satisfying sequel because it continues the concept without repeating the first film’s storyline. If the first film was a campfire tale, the sequel is a pure-blooded monster mash. Jeepers Creepers 2 is also more action-oriented, maintaining the mystery of who the Creeper is while expanding the audience’s understanding of his methods and abilities via bigger depictions of his attacks. Writer/director Victor
Salva and his crew pack the film to the gills with setpieces that mix imaginative monster makeup effects with surprisingly ambitious action involving the bus and a few trucks.
The focus is on stunts instead of gore, with a sense of scope to the battles you don’t normally get in a monster movie. Salva’s direction is impressive, with excellent ‘scope lensing by Don FauntLeRoy, tight editing by Ed Marx and a rousing score by Bennett Salvay pumping up the excitement of the director’s chosen style. It’s also worth noting that while this a popcorn movie for the horror crowd, it takes both its monster and the plight of its victims with a seriousness that genre buffs will appreciate.
The “ensemble of characters” approach means that the characterizations aren’t as detailed as the last film but Salva uses that ensemble to interesting ends: once the kids on the bus are in jeopardy, fault lines develop between them that allow the script to subtly touch upon themes of racial conflict, homophobia and classism. The characters are given enough texture to make this work, with Nenninger in particular impressing as a tough guy who isn’t evil but under the spell of some truly unfortunate social attitudes. Aycox brings a surprising soulfulness to her troubled oracle character and veteran Wise is compelling as a character who is heroic and dangerously obsessive by turns.
In short, Jeepers Creepers 2 is the rare horror sequel that manages to be a crowd-pleaser while using its enhanced resources to develop the franchise’s angles. Anyone who liked the first film will appreciate its genuine love for what it’s doing and its willingness to put its resources behind an ambitious depiction of monster mayhem.