FEAR STREET: PART 2 – 1978 (2021) is, as its title plainly states, the second installment in the FEAR STREET movie trilogy now available on Netflix.
Word of mouth had it that parts two and three were better than part one, but I actually enjoyed the first part well enough which told the story of a group of teens in 1994 fending off a murderous witch who was hell bent on killing them. And that’s because their town, Shadyside, has been cursed since the 1600s by this witch, and the place has been a haven for serial killers throughout the centuries.
I somewhat enjoyed Part One because it paid homage to the 1990s slasher horror movies, in particular Wes Craven’s SCREAM (1996). Part Two takes place in 1978 and pays homage to the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, a series which decades removed from its heyday still has a huge following. Many well-respected horror folks love these movies. I’ve always hated them. I thought they were stupid back then, and each time I watch one in the here and now my opinion hasn’t changed. So, that might be the reason why I wasn’t so keen on FEAR STREET: PART 2 – 1978.
The film opens right after the events from the end of the first movie, with Deena (Kiana Madiera) and her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores, Jr.) saving their friend Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) from the witch. Sort of. Sam isn’t completely saved, as she now seems to be possessed. So, Deena and Josh seek out the one person who survived the witch’s curse, C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs) who was a teenager at a summer camp with her sister in 1978 when a demented killer slaughtered a bunch of campers, the result of the witch’s curse.
Berman doesn’t want to help them at first, but eventually she yields to the teens’ persistence and tells them the story of what happened at Camp Nightwing during that fateful summer of 1978. And this becomes the plot of the movie, as we go back in time to 1978 and follow the two sisters, Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink) and her older less rebellious sibling Cindy (Emily Rudd) as they deal at first with typical bullying and teen mischief at camp, before having to fight for their lives when the insane killer shows up.
And then the film turns into a FRIDAY THE 13TH clone, complete with over the top gory murder scenes and killers wearing masks and wielding sharp weapons. Sure, the acting is better, as are the production values, but at the end of the day, I didn’t like this one much better than any of the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies. However, if you’re a fan of the series, you most likely will really enjoy this movie.
I did like the cast. Both Sadie Sink and Emily Rudd turn in solid performances as the two Berman sisters. Sadie Sink, who has been so good on the TV series STRANGER THINGS (2017 -2022) as Max Mayfield is just as good here as rebellious teen Ziggy Berman. She’s as tough as nails and gives it right back to the more popular girls who constantly try to bully her.
Emily Rudd is equally as effective as the older and more responsible sister Cindy, who wants to take the high road and do all the right things to assure herself a future where she can eventually get out of Shadyside, and so she takes offense at her younger sister’s actions at camp. If Ziggy gets thrown out, Cindy will as well, and Cindy sees this as a knock against her chances of building a reputation that will enable her to leave her hometown successfully. Of course, Ziggy thinks this is all bullsh*t, and she believes her older sister is being a hypocrite by shunning their roots and pretending she’s someone she’s not.
I also enjoyed Ryan Simpkin’s performance as Emily’s friend Alice, an offbeat character that Simpkin really brings to life. McCabe Slye plays Tommy Slater, Emily’s boyfriend, who’s a decent enough guy until he falls victim to the witch’s curse which turns him into the demented slasher killer. Slye is more interesting as Tommy before he becomes an axe-wielding murderer. Once the transition occurs, he becomes a one-note character.
Ted Sutherland is very good as Nick Goode, a camp counselor who has feelings for Ziggy, and the two begin a relationship with each other. What’s most interesting about Sutherland’s performance as Nick Goode is that Nick is a younger version of a character we saw in Part 1, Sheriff Nick Goode, who was kind of an oddball character. The back story provided here really fleshes out the character and explains a lot of Nick’s weird behavior in Part 1. As such, I really enjoyed Sutherland’s performance.
Leigh Janiak directed all three parts of the FEAR STREET trilogy, and I have no problem with how these films look or how they play out. In fact, here in PART 2, a film I wasn’t overly keen on, Janiak’s direction is probably the best part. She nails the Friday the 13th vibe throughout, and for fans, the elaborate ultra violent murders will not disappoint.
But the script by Zak Olkewicz and director Janiak, based on a story by Phil Graziadei, I was not crazy about. I mean, it pushes all the right buttons and does what it needs to do to pay homage to the 1970s slasher flicks, but for me it simply didn’t add anything new to the mix. It was just another variation of the films it was giving a nod to. And the wrap around story holding the entire trilogy together about the witch and her curse on Shadyside, does little for me, which certainly doesn’t help my enjoyment of this series. I don’t find it all that credible, and it’s certainly not engaging. In fact, it’s my least favorite part of the trilogy so far. Separately, with their own individual stories, FEAR STREET Parts one and two are pretty darn good, but throw in that silly wraparound story of the witch, and everything drops down several notches.
I enjoyed FEAR STREET: PART TWO – 1978 slightly less than PART ONE, mostly because I enjoy 90s slasher flicks more than the FRIDAY THE 13TH series.
It’s not a bad horror movie, but like most movies with “Part Two” in its title, there’s not a whole lot there that makes it proudly stand on its own.