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Review: Mixed Bag 'Fear Street Trilogy - Part 2: 1978' Takes on Classic Camp Slashers

by Padraic Maroney
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jul 7, 2021
'Fear Street Trilogy - Part 2: 1978'
'Fear Street Trilogy - Part 2: 1978'  (Source:Netflix)

After the success that Netflix had with Part One of its "Fear Street" trilogy — an homage to horror movies of the late '90s — the bar was set pretty high for the remaining two films. Rather than crafting each movie as a stand-alone film with a larger arc tying them together, similar to Marvel's approach, the "Fear Street" movies run right into each other. It makes them perfect for binge watching, but when one of the films is weaker, as is the case with "Fear Street Part Two: 1978," it dampens the overall re-watchability of all the films.

"1978" picks up almost directly after the first film ends, with Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) possessed and foaming at the mouth. In an effort to save her, the survivors from the first film pay her a visit. After some initial reluctance, she tells them the harrowing story of the massacre at Camp Nightwing. The rest of the movie is mainly told as a flashback, and most of that flashback is used as a way to fill in the backstory of Sarah Fier, killed in the 1600s after being accused of witchcraft. (Fier has cursed the town where the films take place.)

Whereas the first film was an homage to the slasher films of the late '90s, "1978" takes on "Friday the 13th" and the other camp-themed horror movies of that time. Gone are the quips that made us love Kate so much during the first part, and in its place are camp counselors who might as well as be nameless because they are one-dimensional and only serve to add to the body count or be filmed naked. It's funny that the dates for these movies all take place a few years before their respective source materials; the first film is set two years before "Scream" was released, and this is similarly set two years before anyone had ever heard of Camp Crystal Lake.

One element that wasn't kept from the "Friday The 13th" movies is the gore. In those movies, Jason (and his mother) targeted the teenaged camp counselors. While the kills weren't necessarily scary, they did contain a good amount of blood. Here, many of the victims end up being the actual campers. It tends to be frowned upon in horror movies to kill children, so these deaths aren't shown onscreen.

It's hard to believe that Leigh Janiak, who directed and co-wrote the entire trilogy, was also the person helming this film, which took everything that was smart, and that she did well, with the first film and threw it away. The new characters are almost completely unlikeable, and the film is dragged down by the Sarah Fier mythology, which raises more questions than it answers about the curse. Actress Sadie Sink ("Stranger Things") is a bright spot as the perpetually in trouble Ziggy.

"1978" isn't an awful movie, but it doesn't hit the high bar expectations from the first film. Nor does it offer a compelling story that draws you in, mostly due to a script that seems like it should have gone through another couple of drafts to introduce more suspense, or even just satisfying characters. Most frustrating is that the film feels like a pit stop filled with exposition needed before we arrive at the finale — which this film leads right into, as Deena is somehow transported back to 1666 in the final moments. Hopefully, the trilogy can stick the landing, because wasting all of the potential of the first film with increasingly diminished returns would be something to truly fear.

"Fear Street Part Two: 1978" streams on Netflix beginning July 9, 2021.

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