Fear Street Part 2: 1978
Directed By: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Matthew Zuk, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr
In Fear Street Part 2 picks up right after the events of 1994 Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr) and Deena (Kiana Madeira) bring a possessed Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) to the one woman they discovered match wits with the witch and live to tell about it. Living alone and in fear, the woman recounts the harrowing ordeal. We then flashback to the summer ’78. The location: Camp Nighthawk. What should be a week of care-free fun and pranks ends in a bloodbath as the curse of Shady Side continues in this second installment.
Netflix released the second part in their trilogy of films with Fear Street Part 2: 1978. My hopes going into this were high because I thought the first part was, for all of its flaws, a lotta fun. Well, I can breathe a sigh of relief as the second is a worthy entry in this spooky-enjoyable trilogy. In fact, I think it might be slightly better. What’s interesting is that ’78 doesn’t go right into the titular time period but rather picks up right after we left off in the previous film. Therefore, the ’78 time period feels organically woven into the plot but we also don’t drop the characters that we the audience spent time getting invested in. Also, like any good follow up this outing doesn’t feel like a retread but rather expands the mythos. The end result is what feels like another piece in an expertly mapped out puzzle. Fear Street Part Two rewards those who pay close attention with clever call backs and foreshadowing.
It’s no coincidence that both John Carpenter’s seminal slasher Halloween (1978) and the Nighthawk massacre take place in ’78, and this is just one of many easter eggs, references and name checks to other slasher and horror media littered in Fear Street Part 2. Much like ’94, ’78 proudly wears its influences on its gore-stained axe, yet its clever and complex worldbuilding saves it from feeling tiresome or cheap. While the movie does have enough splatter to satisfy the most diehard gore-hound you can tell that this is secondary to a fully formed narrative with fleshed out characters. Fear Street strikes a tricky balance catering to the more excessive traits of the horror genre whilst not sacrificing story. Leigh Janiak does a great job at directing and I cannot stress the kind of pin-point attention to detail that has gone into shaping this outing. It helps that we get some top-notch production design by Scott Kuzio (The Innkeeper). The fresh-faced cast is also great with standouts like Sadie Sink (Stranger Things), Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins all adding something special but everyone is on the same page.
Fear Street Part Two: 1978 not only is a worthy follow up but it plays with the slasher genre in a way that feels fresh and fun.
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Big film nerd and TCM Obsessed. Author of The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema from Schiffer Publishing. Resume includes: AMC’s The Bite, Scream Magazine etc. Love all kinds of movies and television and have interviewed a wide range of actors, writers, producers and directors. I currently am a regular co-host on the podcast The Humanoids from the Deep Dive and have a second book in the works from Bear Manor.