If Fear Street Part 1: 1994 was trying to be Scream, then Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is clearly evoking the so-called golden age of slashers by emulating the setting of Friday The 13th. That’s no secret, considering that the second movie in this trilogy brings us back to the late 70s to an idyllic camp by a serene lake, or so we thought.
The first movie mostly took place in houses and buildings in the town of Shadyside (the fictional town where the entire trilogy takes place) itself. However, just like the Friday The 13th films, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 takes place entirely in Camp Nightwing. That’s right, this time we’re spending two hours at a camp with horny camp counsellors and not-so-innocent teenage campers.
Surprisingly, despite being set mainly in one location for the entire duration of the movie, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is overall an improvement over the first, especially in regards to its characters. Remember when I said that the first movie feels like a 90s version of Stranger Things? Well, the second movie even features an actress from that TV series; namely Sadie Sink, who played Maxine “Max” Mayfield. In Fear Street Part 2: 1978, she plays the role of Ziggy Berman, one of the campers at Camp Nightwing.
While the first movie introduced the rivalry between the neighbouring towns of Shadyside and Sunnyvale, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 finally explores that dynamic even further. How? Well, the counsellors and campers in Camp Nightwing are divided into those from Shadyside or Sunnyvale. Even at this camp, it’s clear that there’s a class divide of sorts between them, as those from Sunnyvale look down on those from Shadyside.
Sadie Sink’s Ziggy Berman is from Shadyside and she often gets bullied by Sunnyvale campers for her family problems. To make things worse, her sister, Emily Rudd’s Cindy Berman is a counsellor at the camp with problems of her own. When one of their own starts killing, all hell breaks loose. There’s just something about the classic camp setting that’s ripe for a horror movie, and that holds true for this movie as well.
Despite taking place in the past, there’s no jarring transition. Fear Street Part 2: 1978 immediately begins from the ending of the last movie. Just like the first movie, director Leighs Janiak tends to include music from the era in almost every scene to set the tone (Cherry Bomb by The Runaways, etc.), so if you’re bothered by them in the first movie, it’s the same situation here. You might feel differently about songs from the late 70s so it’s ultimately up to your preference.
Unfortunately, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 also suffers from the same problem as the first. The kills and deaths are still boring and uninspired. They’re noticeably bloodier and gorier, with some decapitations here and there, but nothing memorable or unique. Longtime horror fans won’t find much (dead) meat here to chew on.
What Fear Street Part 2: 1978 successfully does is add new dimensions and depths to existing characters from present-day 1994, since some of these characters are younger versions of characters from the first movie. One of the major twists of this movie actually relates to that, though you can probably see it coming a mile away. Trust me, it’s less shocking and more of an “obviously, duh!” moment.
Friday The 13th
All in all, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 has the same great production value as the first and is a slightly better movie, albeit suffering from some of the same issues. Horror fans will still be able to appreciate the movie’s references and homages to classic horror movies (Stephen King’s Carrie is referenced several times), but nothing much impresses.
Once again, I won’t spoil anything, but rest assured that all the setup in this movie (and the first) does have a big payoff in the third and final film. If you’re a fan of classic slasher films or if you’re a long-time horror fan, you should still check this out. The last movie is already coming out next week, so you won’t even have to wait long.
FINAL SCORE: 70/100
We received an early access screener of Fear Street Part 2: 1978 courtesy of Netflix Malaysia. It is slated to premiere exclusively on Netflix on 9 July 2021.