Last week saw the release of Fear Street Part One: 1994 – the first entry in Netflix’s rather ambitious Fear Street trilogy. In my review of the film, I called it “good stuff, and great for those who want to relive ’90s horror.”
This week sees the arrival of the second instalment: Fear Street Part Two: 1978. Like its predecessor, this is another period piece, but this time set during the late ‘70s.
As with Part One, this movie is directed by Leigh Janiak and is based on the Fear Street books by R. L. Stine. Fear Street Part 2 stars Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Gillian Jacobs, and Sadie Sink, and tells the story of a bloody massacre at a summer camp.
The film picks up directly after the events of the previous movie, with Deena Johnson and her brother, Josh tracking down Christine Berman – the sole survivor of the witch’s curse. Deena is desperate to find a way to save her girlfriend, Sam and believes the answer lies with Christine.
Although reluctant to help, Christine tells of her brush with the witch, Sarah Fier, which took place at Camp Nightwing in 1978. Christine explains how Sarah bewitched a camp counsellor and turned him into a crazed killer.
Told extensively through the use of a flashback, the movie follows a group of teens as they do their best to survive being bumped off. It offers a few more details about the witch, and takes the opportunity to pay homage to an iconic slasher franchise of the ‘80s.
Those who read my review of Fear Street Part One: 1994, will know that I largely enjoyed the movie, with my only real criticism being that it was a little too long. My feelings toward Fear Street Part Two: 1978 are pretty much the same – this is another great movie, but it could have done with a few snips here and there.
The problem I have with the length of the film is entirely connected to the first half of the picture. I love the way it just jumps straight into the story, without the need to recap everything that happened in Part One, but it still takes far too long to really get going.
It is almost 45 minutes until a death scene occurs. The death scene is good, as are all of the ‘kills’ in this movie, but waiting until nearly halfway into the story to deliver the blood and gore is frustrating.
I get that the Fear Street trilogy could be viewed as one long film cut into three sections, but if the trilogy is being presented as individual parts, then each film needs to hit all the right marks at the right time. This slasher movie is too slow at get to the slashing.
But that’s it. That’s my criticism. Putting the pacing issues of the first half of the movie to one side, I liked everything else.
Once Fear Street Part Two finds its groove, it serves up all the same elements that made the first film work so well: A great cast, good costumes and lighting, a jukebox of pop songs to establish the setting, and various nods and winks to horror movies of the past. The Friday the 13th films in particular provide the main source of inspiration.
Fear Street Part Two feels so much like a Friday the 13th movie that had director Leigh Janiak been given the opportunity to revive the long-dormant franchise, she would have been a perfect fit. But I guess, if she is ever offered that gig now, she won’t take it, as Fear Street Part Two is her Friday the 13th.
This film is also her Sleepaway Camp and every other slasher of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. It is a huge call back to a very significant decade of horror, and if you grew up on this stuff, then you will feel instantly transported back to that time period.
What I like most about this movie is the way in which it feels different to Part One, yet at the same time is in-keeping with the overall tone established by its predecessor. There is a consistency here, and it is not going unnoticed.
Going into Fear Street Part Two I was a little concerned with how this film would play out. Being the mid-section of a three-act structure can be tough, and I worried that this entry would sag or buckle under its own weight.
I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t sag, and instead offers up a tale which helps to further the overall narrative, while at the same time providing a neat little retro story. Sure, it’s not particularly scary, and it doesn’t add anything new to the genre, but it is a well-made picture and a real love-letter to slasher movies.
If you liked Fear Street Part One, then there is no reason not to find enjoyment in Fear Street Part Two. It delivers the same level of quality, and although it takes a huge step back to the past, it continues to move forward.