Movie Review ~ Fear Street Part Two: 1978

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The Facts:

Synopsis: Shadyside, 1978. School’s out for summer and the activities at Camp Nightwing are about to begin. But when another Shadysider is possessed with the urge to kill, the fun in the sun becomes a gruesome fight for survival.

Stars: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, Chiara Aurelia, Gillian Jacobs, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Drew Scheid, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr.

Director: Leigh Janiak

Rated: R

Running Length: 109 minutes

TMMM Score: (8/10)

Review:  Gotta start with a spoiler-alert right off the bat.  If you haven’t watched Fear Street Part One: 1994, we’re going to be discussing a lot of plot points from that film here, so I suggest stop reading now.

You ready?

OK!

Here we are in Week Two of Netflix’s fun, three-week schedule of releasing a trilogy of movies inspired by R.L. Stine’s classic novels.  At the end of last week’s film, poor Sam had all sorts of witchy things possessing her and her girlfriend Deena was willing to do anything to save her from the curse of Sarah Fier.  With friends Kate and Simon rather cruelly and gruesomely dispatched and with apparently no adults over forty residing in the town, Deena and her brother Josh call up the one townie they know might be able to help them.  That would be the person that has survived an encounter with The Witch of Shadyside before…C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs, Come Play)

Now, here’s where the film actually picks up and meeting the character Jacobs is playing is an interesting introduction.  While she was merely a voice at the end of 1994, offering a scant bit of advice to Deena, she’s front and center from the start in Part Two and director Leigh Janiak allows time for audiences to see how the recluse is living her life.  A creature of routines (her entire life is set by a variety of alarm clocks around the house labeled with various mundane tasks), she keeps herself locked away and is obviously still frightened of…something.   Of course, Deena and Josh easily find her house and have no trouble bursting in and instead of going full on panic attack at the teeth-gnashing growler demon Sam has become, C. Berman sits the two unpossessed teens down and calmly tells them how she faced Sarah Fier at Camp Nightwing in 1978 and lived to talk about it…and how her sister didn’t.

A rollicking summer camp straight out of every horror film of that early slasher film era, Camp Nightwing is all tube socks, lip gloss, athletic shorts, and friendship bracelets.  The counselors are always smoking dope and finding ways to frolic while the campers are largely learning by example.  Goodie two shoes counselor Cindy Berman (Emily Rudd) and her hunky boyfriend Tommy Slater (McCabe Slye, Destroyer) are the responsible ones while partiers like Alice (Ryan Simpkins) are of the lesser dependable variety.  Cindy’s sister Ziggy (Sadie Sink) is also at Nightwing, but the siblings go together like oil and water leading them to keep their distance while Ziggy is pursued by counselor in training Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland)

When the camp nurse (Jordana Spiro, To the Stars) shockingly tries to slice Tommy, it’s the first of many weird occurrences that lead to a night of terror and bloodshed for the campers…again, all without any adult supervision.  After one of the counselors becomes possessed with the urge to murder and does so with little care for age, race, or creed, it’s up to Cindy, Alice, Ziggy, and Nick, to kill or be killed before a rage-filled ancient torment can run its course through Camp Nightwing.  Who actually lives out of this group is surprising and has an impact on the latter moments of the film, leading to a cliffhanger ending which will be resolved in the final chapter next week.

With a new Friday the 13th film stuck, likely for a considerable amount of time, in development hell, this second chapter in the Fear Street series is sure to satisfy those who have missed a blood-soaked summer camp shocker.  It’s light on the T&A that saturated a number of slasher films but doesn’t hold back on the gore that helped define the taste of a generation of moviegoers and what they want to see in these particular types of genre entries.  It plays far more like a stand-alone movie than the middle chapter of a trilogy and that signifies strong writing. It’s actually when it comes back around to the present story where the structure starts to wobble a bit.  No matter, Fear Street Part Two 1978 builds strongly on what its predecessor had set into motion and gives the conclusion some excellent energy to start off with.