Finally, Netflix is delivering a major horror movie event. And with movie theatres just opening in some areas, the timing couldn’t be better. Based on RL Stine novels, the streaming platform is in the middle of its Fear Street trilogy. After Fear Street Part One 1994 introduced us to Shadyside and witch Sarah Fier’s curse, director Leigh Janiak left us on a cliffhanger. Now Fear Street Part Two 1978 takes us back to another past Shadyside tragedy. If Part One tapped into Scream and the slasher-lite era of the 90s, Part Two looks to replicate the splatter horror of the 1970s. So off we go to Camp Nightwing to see if Part Two can avoid feeling like the middle chapter of a trilogy.
After Sarah Fier possesses Sam Fraser, Deena and her brother, Josh, find the one person who has survived the witch’s curse – C Berman. Despite her initial reluctance, Berman shares her past encounter with Shadyside’s curse at Camp Nightwing in 1978. During the camp’s annual color wars, Fier curses a camp counsellor who then stalks the campers and counsellors alike with an axe. Only two sisters – Cindy and Ziggy Berman – have any chance of stopping the killer and possibly ending the curse.
Fear Street Part Two 1978 Mostly Avoids the Curse of the Middle Movie
For its middle entry, Fear Street Part Two 1978 gets a lot right even if it doesn’t quite hit the highs of Part One. Writer and director Leigh Janiak, along with co-writer Zak Olkewicz, demonstrate the same affinity for camping horror movies and 70s splatter as they did the 90s slasher-lite era. Subtle references to camping horror movies – most notably Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp – abound. Not quite as Rated-R as either of those movies, Fear Street Part Two 1978 still gets the era’s violence right. Some of the death scenes are downright nasty. Alongside some mild sex and nudity, there’s definitely blood splattered. And the movie’s killer doesn’t spare anyone. Where Part Two differs from its influences is in its more self-aware humor.
Some of the death scene’s are downright nasty.
In spite of these strengths, Fear Street Part Two 1978 suffers from a few shortcomings. Regardless of its largely self-contained story, Part Two can’t help but feel like a set-up for the trilogy’s final movie. Moreover, Janiak lets things drag on a little longer than the story necessitates. As a result, Part Two’s middle act lags here and there. But the biggest problem is Janiak and Olkewicz’s attempts to fuse two very different story threads into one movie. Cindy Berman’s ‘Scooby Doo’ mystery hunt doesn’t always mesh with what’s arguably the movie’s best thread – its 70s splatter movie story. To her credit, Janiak brings both elements together for what’s an emotionally rousing finale.
Fear Street Part Two 1978 Has Compelling Protagonists, But Lacks a Truly Chilling Villain
One of the biggest strengths of Fear Street Part Two 1978 is the story’s ability to give us more compelling characters. At the heart of its story, Emily Rudd (Cindy Berman) and Sadie Sink’s (Ziggy Berman) (Stranger Things, Eli) sisters are both extremely likable characters. Specifically, Janiak and Olkewicz’s ensures their relationship has a complete arc that makes the finale a gut punch. In particular, Rudd’s development over the course of the movie nearly saves her story thread. And Rudd and Sink are both incredible in their roles. That Fear Street Part Two 1978 can also get audiences to invest in another character – Ryan Simpkins’ ‘Alice’ – is a testament to the writing.
As the story requires, Slater is not much more than an automaton – a mindlessly possessed killer.
What’s missing from Fear Street Part Two 1978 is a compelling villain. Though McCabe Slye’s ‘Tommy Slater’ is perfectly fine in the role, Part Two doesn’t give him much to do as the prequel’s killer. As the story requires, Slater is a not much more than an automaton – a mindlessly possessed killer. Once Slater gets his burlap sack, the visual appearance perfectly suits the movie. Still there’s a lack of personality and in the absence of any shocking reveal, it leaves Part Two missing something.
Fear Street Part Two 1978 Still Entertains In Spite of a Few Limitations
While Fear Street Part Two 1978 falls a short of the trilogy’s first entry, it’s still a wildly fun, nasty slasher. In part, the second series entry doesn’t earn its nearly two hour runtime. That is, the middle sags a little bit. And the combination of two very different horror subgenres doesn’t work nearly as well here. Nonetheless, Fear Street Part Two 1978 gets its 70s-inspired splatter deaths right. Janiak introduces main characters with whom you identify and root by the end. Most importantly, Part Two adds more to the trilogy’s mystery making the final entry required viewing.