Movie Review: ‘Fear Street Part 2: 1978’

Last week audiences got the first movie to adapt RL Stine’s Fear Street series which ended on a gripping cliffhanger. Recently Netflix released the next installment in the trilogy continuing to explore the horror in the town of Shadyside. Picking up where the first movie left off, the protagonist Deena turns to the one person who may can help her, the survivor of the 1978 massacre at Camp Nightwing. We get a recounting of what happened all those years ago before being hit with the terrifying realization that there may be no hope in stopping this evil

It is the summer of 1978 and at Camp Nightwing, two sisters from Shadyside, Cindy and Ziggy Berman, are dealing with a strained relationship. When the camp’s nurse attempts to murder Cindy’s boyfriend Tommy we are led down a trail which takes Cindy into the caves beneath the camp which holds many secrets to Shadyside’s past. This awakens Tommy to his destiny as the Axe Man the latest in the town’s cavalcade of killers. As Cindy explores the caves below, Ziggy tries to survive the Axe Man’s massacre at Camp Nightwing. Eventually the two paths the sisters are on cross and they have to put aside their differences if they hope to save not just their fellow campers but the entire tThe summer camp is a classic horror movie staple and one can definitely see the inevitable influence the likes of the Burning, Sleepaway Camp and the Friday the 13th franchise have on the film. The slasher in this film even dons a burlap sack as a hood as a nice nod to Friday the 13th Part 2. On the surface, it is your standard camp filled kids waiting to be fodder for a masked killer, but it is built upon the source of the sinister power over Shadyside. Director/writer Leigh Janiak and her screenwriting partner Zak Olkewicz, utilize this as a means to tell two separate but intertwined narratives. The A-plot is their take on the classic slasher racking up a teenage body count at a summer camp with Ziggy taking on the Final Girl role. While this is a familiar horror movie scenario, Janiak takes it back to the trope’s roots of being visceral and terrifying rather than playing up the gratuitous gore and camp (no pun intended) elements. In the plotline of the caves beneath the camp, Cindy gets to explore more about the origins of Sarah Fier, the witch from 1666 responsible for the evil which has plagued this town. This allows the film to further explore the mythology originally laid out in Fear Street Part One: 1994. With the third and final installment of this trilogy coming soon, this fleshing out of Sarah’s curse on Shadyside was a necessity. As with the first film, the horror is all the more effective thanks to the fact that we have fully fleshed out and well-rounded characters to root for. There may be a axe-wielding killer possessed by supernatural evil, but the complicated relationship between Cindy and Ziggy is driving force of the film. While they share the same background, the two girls have vastly different reactions and outlooks to what has happened to them driving a wedge between them that may never be pulled away. The ups and downs of their experiences throughout the nightmare of this camp makes the ending pack that much more of an emotional punch. Stranger Things star Sadie Sink steals the show as Ziggy and her chemistry with Emily Rudd as Cindy is the perfect blend of volatile and heartfelt.

Taking the baton Fear Street Part 1 handed off to it, Fear Street Part 2 continues the tale of a town continuously haunted by its past. While we once again have a cool array of masked killers, the true horror these characters face derives from their pasts, their futures, and broken relationships that might never be repaired. This too leaves us with a cliffhanger as we await the third and final installment of this trilogy. Being a sucker for historical based horror the 17th century setting of the upcoming Fear Street Part 3: 1666 has me quite excited.