Fear Street Part 2: 1978
Starring: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Ryan Simpkins, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Scott Welch, and Kiana Madeira.
Story by: Zak Olkewicz and Phil Graziadei & Leigh Janiak
Screenplay by: Zak Olkewicz and Leigh Janiak
Based on the Fear Street series by R.L. Stine
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Netflix’s latest cult-hit dives into the camp slashers of yore in Fear Street Part 2: 1978.
Supported by the super-structure of the whole trilogy, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 hits the ground in a dead sprint. Deena is desperate to save her demon-possessed GF Sam Fraser (a returning Kiana Madeira and Olivia Scott Welch) from the curse of Sarah Fier. The only person in Shadyside who ever escaped the witch is one C. Berman, the 1978 Camp Nightwing Massacre survivor. Now a routine-addicted, Jim Beam-swilling shut-in played by Gillian Jacobs of Community fame.
Deena and her brother are desperate for help and try appealing to the former Final Girl for some direction because she has is a story. Deena’s story is inspired by Sleepaway Camp, all those horny camp slasher movies you used to tape on TNT’s MonsterVision, but tied together by the compelling threads of Netflix’s budding Fear Street franchise.
After a breezy “Previously On…” and cold open catching us up on our major players, Fear Street Part 2: 1978, largely produced by the same creative team as Parts 1 & 3, wastes little time spreading the red and dropping the needles. Narrated by Jacobs, we are introduced to the young Berman sisters, played with a flinty charm and heart by Emily Rudd (Amazon’s The Romanoffs) and Stranger Things breakout Sadie Sink.
On the eve of Camp Nightwing’s “color wars,” both Bermans are feeling the pressure of their Shadyside upbringing. One sibling is bullied ghoulishly by the Sunnyvale cool kids, and the other struggles valiantly to escape her labeling as just another Shadyside lost cause. Both narrative hooks operate independently from one another but continue the Fear Street franchise’s focus on the relationship between women. Part 1 had the Deena/Sam relationship, while Part 2 focuses on a more family-focused pairing.
And that focus isn’t lost once the axes start flying. It provides Fear Street Part 2: 1978 a wonderfully unexpected set of personal stakes. The stakes are firmly rooted in how we feel about these sisters and their friends throughout the fun and frivolity. Fear Street Part 2: 1978 continues this franchise’s mean-streak and willingness to murder teens in increasingly well-staged ways.
This sophomore installment also richly rewards repeat viewers. Though this stagey Friday The 13th riff stands well on its own, fans who have opted to make this a repeat or binge experience will find all sorts more juicy details. You’ll find more about the curse of Sarah Fier and how her grip has bled into the lives of all the adult versions of these characters we met in Part 1. All are barreling toward a truly gonzo cliffhanger to send us into Part 3: 1666.
I wouldn’t call Fear Street Part 2: 1978 “groundbreaking.” However, I would certainly and confidently call it “fun as all fuck”. A feeling keenly fostered by the film’s breezy construction, game cast, and consistent shocks. I am not sure if these new cult-favorites will pull off their grand experiment. If anything, I would be more than happy to watch Fear Street Part 2: 1978 again, armed with summer vibes and more than a few Lone Stars.