Continuing the slasher movie goodness established in Fear Street Part 1: 1994—which was released last week—Fear Street Part 2: 1978 searches the past for answers at the seemingly harmless Camp Nightwing. Reminiscent of Friday the 13th, the supernatural forces at work in the Fear Street trilogy make this second installment worth a dive into the past, even if we leave the 1994 events unresolved for now.
Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) search out C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs), the woman on the phone at the end of 1994, who warned them that “it’s not over” right before Deena had to tie up her girlfriend Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), newly possessed by the witch Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel).
Berman tells them a story about her time at Camp Nightwing during the summer of 1978. But 1994 already hinted at what happened there: “A masked psycho murders a bunch of kids at Camp Nightwing,” Josh informs the 1994 group. Kate (Julia Rehwald) even mentions her mom’s sister was there, and that it messed up her family for a long time. This is just one of the many connections between the characters in 1994 and 1978, and putting those pieces together is part of the fun of the two films.
Building off the blood fest at the end of the first film, director Leigh Janiak wastes no time before the killings begin in this second go-around. Typical of a summer camp slasher, there’s plenty of cannon fodder in the other campers to create a gorey atmosphere. Some of the scares are hardly original for the genre, and especially after 1994, Janiak treads repetitive ground when the zombie nature of the serial killers are revealed to the campers throughout the film. However, more answers about Sarah Fier can be found here, and the deep-seated generational rivalry between Shadyside and Sunnyvale feels heightened as answers come to fruition.
Even the secondary characters get heavy, emotional arcs.
The killings may be easy to see coming, but the carefully crafted character arcs from 1994 are also present in 1978. Sadie Sink plays Ziggy, a Shadysider whose beef with Sunnyvalers is worsened when her perfect sister Cindy (Emily Rudd), one of the camp counselors, desperately wants to leave Shadyside, similar to Sam, Kate, and Simon in the first film.
As the killings ramp up at Camp Nightwing, their journey back to each other is the highlight of the film. But even the secondary characters get heavy, emotional arcs, as the common theme of wanting to escape where they came from and find a better future for themselves permeates the thoughts of all Shadysiders until their inevitable, tragic end.
This particular aspect of the two films so far makes the trilogy’s odd 3-week release schedule and structure (each film set in a different time period) work—there’s a cycle of pain and tragedy at work here. Watching the mystery unfold over the course of three weeks heightens the emotional journeys for each character, in both the present and the past. It’s a unique blending of film and television, caught in between today’s binge-watchable television series and the grounded and meandering commonly found in indie horror films.
Blood may spill, but there’s still time to rock in 1978.
A soundtrack of classic rock keeps the 70s vibe strong throughout the film, aiding the atmosphere with songs like Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” and Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son,” plus a few more killer needle drops. Blood may spill, but there’s still time to rock in 1978.
“In Shadyside, the past is never really past,” C. Berman tells Deena and Josh at the start of her story. With two films down in this horror trilogy, one more journey, this time all the way back to 1666, should bring everything full circle, and hopefully put an end to the curse on Shadyside, Ohio. The supernatural mystery goes much further in Fear Street Part 2: 1978 than the slasher part of it did, but it’s still a wild ride into a small town’s circle of never-ending doom.
Fear Street Part 2: 1978 will be available to stream on Netflix starting July 9. Fear Street Part 3: 1666 will release hit Netflix on July 16. You can watch the official trailer here.