Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is the second of a trilogy of films being released weekly on Netflix, based on the book series of the same name by R.L Stine. Despite claiming in my review for part 1 that I wouldn’t drop everything to watch the second film, curiosity got the best of me and I’m glad it did, as 1978 is much better than 1994.
The second part follows directly on from the ending of the first film, so spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Part One. Deena (Kiana Madeira) and brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr) have taken the possessed Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) to C Berman (Gillian Jacobs), the only survivor from the 1978 Camp Nightwing massacre, in the hope that she can tell them how to defeat the witch Sarah Fier and save Sam. Despite surviving, Berman lives a solitary life where she obsesses over structure, alarms and security, her only contact appears to be with Sheriff Nick Goode (Ashley Zuckerman).
After warning Deena and Josh that the witch can never be defeated, she recounts her time at Camp Nightwing in 1978, the events that saw the death of her sister. We’re transported to 1978, where teenage Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink) is chased and attacked in the woods by fellow campers. She’s trussed up to a tree and accused of theft and being a witch until her torment is cut short by camp counsellors including a young Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland). Ziggy is released and heads to see nurse Mary Lane (Jordana Spiro) for her injuries, with who Ziggy is on friendly terms. Meanwhile, her sister Cindy (Emily Rudd) is a camp counsellor struggling to keep order with her fellow counsellors and of her sister.
On discovering Ziggy’s latest exploits, Cindy confronts her and they argue. Ziggy storms off, and Cindy heads to her cleaning duties alongside her boyfriend Tommy (McCabe Slye). The pair come face to face with Nurse Mary, who tries to kill Tommy because she’s seen his name written on a stone, and believes he’ll die this day regardless. Tommy fights Mary off and she is hospitalised, yet later in the day Cindy and Tommy become concerned over Mary’s actions and search the infirmary for clues. They find a notebook detailing the history behind Sarah Fier and the town history, including a map that shows where Sarah lived. Cindy, Tommy and two other counsellors set off for Sarah’s home, where they discover a creepy hidden room with stones engraved with the names of the killers believed to have been possessed by the witch, including Tommy’s. As Cindy investigates, Tommy loses control and kills the other counsellor with an axe. Cindy escapes into a cave system where Tommy can’t follow, so instead, he heads back to the camp and begins to massacre anyone in sight. Cindy meanwhile must figure out how to escape the cave system and how to stop the witch to save her sister Ziggy from the fate of the other campers.
Right from the start, Part Two feels different and much better than 1994. While the story starts off slowly the second time around without any brutal pre-credits killings, we’re instead treated to a well thought out and engaging story. Ziggy and Cindy are interesting characters and their lives along with their relationships with fellow campers and counsellors is enjoyable to watch. Unlike Part One, something here makes you actually care about the fate of the characters. It could be the acting, which while wasn’t bad in Part One it is definitely a step up here, or it could just be an overall better, more well-rounded story. The film is also mainly set in one place and the camp itself feels very real, with great set design and a fantastic classic rock soundtrack. while this is obviously a homage to the likes of Friday the 13th, it never once feels like it’s a copy.
Everything about this film feels like a step up from Part One, and that’s definitely true for the blood and gore. It takes over 40 minutes for us to see a killing, but once this gets started it doesn’t stop until the very end, with a poignant and rather harrowing final scene with the two sisters. There’s also a pleasantly surprising twist towards the end that while it doesn’t have a major impact in terms of the overall plot, it really worked in subverting everything we as a viewer had been thinking for the past 90 minutes.
Part Two isn’t perfect. There are still a few horror movie clichés and homages here that I didn’t enjoy and that were probably better off left in the 80s, and the slow start could have been improved to give us a little bit of gore earlier on. But overall I was incredibly entertained throughout.
Fear Street Part Two: 1978 is a major improvement on part one and a hugely enjoyable slasher horror – not something I was expecting from the second film of a trilogy that usually tends to be the weakest of the three. I just hope Part Three (1666) can live up to the high expectations set by this film.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!