Fear Street Part II: 1978 (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Fear Street Part II: 1978 (2021) Review

Horrorific content by Christina Dee on August 03rd, 2021 | Movie Review | Cursed, Supernatural, Teen, Anthology, Witchcraft

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In 1978, two rival groups at Camp Nightwing must band together to solve a terrifying mystery when horrors from their towns' history come alive.

Like its predecessor, Fear Street Part II: 1978 is directed by Leigh Janiak and is based on the young adult book series of the same name by R.L. Stine. It stars a talented cast of young actors, including (but not limited to) Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, and Chiara Aurelia.

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Fear Street Part II Review

If you enjoyed Fear Street Part I: 1994, then you no doubt made plans to barrel into Fear Street Part II:1978 the minute it dropped on Netflix. But how does it measure up against the first installment? Does it successfully keep the story of Shadyside and its ill-fated denizens going in an exciting direction, or does it fall flat on its face?

This time, the storyline takes viewers back to the year 1978. That year’s crop of campers and counselors are getting ready to spend the summer at Camp Nightwing, the go-to destination for young people from both Shadyside and its rival sister town, Sunnyvale. At the story’s center are a pair of sisters, camper Ziggy (Sink) and counselor Cindy Berman (Rudd).

When the film opens, Cindy is hard at work cleaning the latrines with her boyfriend Tommy (McCabe Slye). At the same time, Ziggy is being accused of stealing by fellow camper Sheila (Aurelia), making it clear that Cindy is the good sister while Ziggy is the wild child. But that’s not where the differences between the sisters end. Ziggy and Cindy are both from the lower-echelon Shadyside, but only Ziggy is comfortable with that fact. Preppy Cindy, on the other hand, is trying desperately to fit in with the Sunnyvalers instead.

Astute viewers will, of course, remember that they heard the story of what goes down at Camp Nightwing in the summer of ’78 in the first installment of Fear Street. What’s still a mystery is how it all goes down, and this film is – of course – the story of all that. And it’s a story told via a series of familiar throwbacks to the camp slasher films of the 1970s and clever departures that keep you on your toes as you watch.

There are plenty of familiar character tropes to enjoy, as well. In addition to the sisters who are polar opposites, you have the dyed-in-the-wool rebel, Alice (Simpkins). There’s Alice’s boyfriend, the drug-loving, sexual Arnie (Sam Brooks). Clean-cut, squeaky-clean Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland) is Ziggy’s “opposites attract-style” love interest. There’s even a creepy harbinger of doom who provides an eerie foretelling of things to come – the camp’s on-staff nurse (Jordana Spiro).

Predictably, things don’t stay idyllic for long. They go violent and tense soon enough. A satisfying amount of information about the mysterious witch Sarah Fier is presented a bit at a time, both fulfilling the set-up from the first Fear Street and setting up the third and final installment nicely. Some things go down exactly as you’d expect, while others are refreshing surprises that keep this film from being overly predictable – a good combination that works well.

Worth Watching?

The whole concept of Fear Street feels like something that shouldn’t work – a storyline that progresses backward through three consecutive films, each sequel also serving as a prequel. However, it does, providing a satisfying viewing experience that brings something new to the table without taking itself too seriously. The camerawork and writing combine to keep you right in the center of the action. The jump scares are effective, with some coming across as genuine shocks. All of the performances are engaging and well-executed, as well.

No, like the first installment of Fear Street, the second isn’t going to take home any Oscars. But it’s good, gory summer fun that will definitely keep you entertained for a while.

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