Victor Salva proves he can direct and gives this film a much darker and grim tone as the first film. He manages to put the audience in the seats and minds of these characters and make them feel as if they’re being hunted by the creeper. Placing this group of people in a cramped broken down bus and throwing them at this intelligent and violent creature is brilliant and after a while you start to get nervous and anxious. Salva lets us in some of the origin of the creature but never spills the beans.
I think they should never tell the audience who or what the creature is because it helps increase his mysterious and horrifying persona rather than letting us feel casual with it. Jonathan Breck returns again as The Creeper and really pulls out all the stops with the incredible effects. He’s terrifying as the winged, cloak wearing monster and we truly see his process for picking out his victims, and how he uses body parts to regenerate his body. He’s a great character and truly franchise potential, if they handle him right. Easily, this character can turn tiresome but Breck amps it up a little bit showing the creature in all his forms.
The Creeper is much different in his appearance in the film as he was in the original; he’s a lot more detailed and slimy in his skin. Also, he’s a lot more menacing and two-dimensional; he’s no longer a presence but more a character. The film’s dramatic tone is shown as we see Ray Wise as farmer Jack Taggart who has a personal score to settle with the creeper. Throughout the film we see his hunt for the creeper and we feel his lust for vengeance and he gives him a rough time. We’re given some great exciting sequences including the taunting from the creeper when he’s sniffing the basketball players outside the bus, a brief but great cameo from Justin Long who played Darry in the first film, and we learn how the creeper attaches a body part to his.
I was disappointed that it failed to live up to its first film. The whole movie starts off well enough in the opener but inevitably goes wrong for the remainder of the story. The first and most annoying flaw with this movie is that we learn too much about the creeper. Sure, we never get an explanation about who or what it is, but we get clues, clues that kept me guessing what it was and most likely had me dreading it might be explained in the next film. He has some weapons at his disposal which really annoyed me because he never had many weapons in the original film. He has a couple of knives, and some odd stars he hurls at people which seems more campy than creepy.
Also, Salva completely does away with menacing ominous truck and leaves the creeper to fend for himself with his batwings. Where’s the mystery and awe we felt in the original film? In here we see too much of him, and we learn too much too fast which takes away any mystique he left. In the original he was like a presence looming over these kids, in this he’s like a bug that won’t go away. There’s a glimmer of hope in the opener, but it all seems too tacked on. Why didn’t he just run the bus off the road with his truck and pick out the basketball players? Why did he run? The characters are no longer shown as individuals.
In the original we learned about Darry and Trish and we grew to like them and feel for them, but we get an assortment of one dimensional horror stereotypes. There’s the dorky kid, the innocent psychic girl, and all of the basketball players are machismo pumped muscle heads; one of whom is a homophobic and racist. Also, the story doesn’t progress; it’s the same deal as the first film except tepid and shallow and the climax leaves the door open for a sequel and, god forbid, a prequel. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I did the original film for the fact that Salva and co. give too much away too soon about the Creeper, and expect us to care about vapid characters, rather than complex ones like the original. It’s a shame.