Review: FEAR STREET PART 2: 1978, Uneven Middle Chapter May Leave Horror Fans Disappointed
Fear Street Part Two 1978 picks up right where the first part left us, in 1994, with Deena and Josh hauling a possessed Sam to the home of C. Berman. She was the Survivor Girl from a massacre at Camp Nightwing back in 1978.
There are many things we already know. We know only one of the Berman sisters will survive at the end of the film, in fact, it reminds us again right at the beginning of this second film. What Part Two spends a lot of time on is their relationship and what’s come between them. There are mentions of trouble at the Berman home. There is Cindy Berman and her laser focus on getting out of Shadyside even if that means compromising who she is by trying to fit in with the Sunnyvale kids. Then there is her sister Ziggy who is proud to be from Shadyside and delights in antagonizing campers and staff who come from Sunnyvale.
We see the Goode brothers, Nick and Will, who we know both survive because Nick is now the sheriff and Will is the mayor of Sunnyvale. The story in Part Two includes more of Nick than it does Will, so we’re hoping there’s something this series is building up to for him in the third part next week. Will of the present is just a small town Kushner photocopy and has no real influence in this series, just like the real life Kushner. Rimshot!
We know how the witch, Sarah Fier, works; possessing the killer and having them run around, slicing and dicing. We already met the Camp Nightwing Killer, along with Ruby Lane, The Milkman, and Billy Barker in Part One. This story obviously can’t go back too far in the Sarah Fier timeline or there would be less villains running around later.
This chapter does paint itself into a bit of a corner, following certain tropes of sex and violence. Though the movie would have been perfectly fine without bumping and grinding teens, it was a staple of the slasher genre as it hit its hay day as it headed into the 80s. With a, “Holdup, just how old is everyone here? And where is the adult supervision?” feeling creeping in on you this is what unsupervised teens are wont to do, right? Still these scenes feel rather obligatory than necessary, like an afterthought. Like a tick off the old checklist.
As far as the violence is concerned, here's the problem that this particular slasher film faces. Why do a lot of slasher films that take place at camps happen in the days leading up to the camp season? There are no kids around. No one wants to see campers get murdered. No one should anyways. We know from Part One that the Camp Nightwing Killer murders twelve people so what do you do when they reach the camp grounds and start offing kids? Well now, we can’t have that on screen now, can we? Nope.
So anything with kids is off camera while counsellors are fair game and we already know from Part One that the Camp Nightwing Killer is very good with their axe. If you’ve come to Part Two looking for gore you’re probably going to be disappointed that not enough counsellors got the sharp end of the axe. The ratio is off. Still, it is equally a bold move on behalf of the filmmakers, to have kids on the camp property. We are uncertain if this raises the dread factor as much as the filmmakers hoped it would. It bears repeating that this handcuffs them and limits how much gore they can throw at the screen. The props team does get props (huh? HUH?) for their work on the scenery after the axe has fallen behind those closed doors. We should tip our hat to the final kill though. Finally we have a moment of unsettling violence, not without meaning, that takes longer than it should to get there.
With no opening volley like there was in Part One it is quite some time before the killer starts hacking away at his victims. This may leave horror fans with a feeling of growing impatience because Part Two does feel like it is more concerned about the ongoing story of the two sisters, the two towns and class identity than it does giving an entertaining bout of slasher violence. There is an imbalance here of ‘Us vs. Them’ and ‘All Of Us vs. Slasher Killer’. With Part Three coming up next, jumping all the way back to the origins of the Sarah Fier legend in 1666, it begs the question, what relevance does this battle of the towns and classes really have to the overall story of this Fear Street series?
Part Two builds the legacy of Sarah Fier yet nothing is really done about it, which it can’t, because, if it did there would be no Part Three. Der! We do feel though that Part Two definitely has an imbalance of small town drama versus horror that has to be addressed that cannot even be turned around by the promise it's intentional “Oh no, they didn’t” cliffhanger ending promises. It is a mildly disappointing second chapter in comparison to the brisk and straight to point first chapter.
Fear Street 2
- Leigh Janiak
- Phil Graziadei
- Leigh Janiak
- Zak Olkewicz
- Olivia Scott Welch
- Gillian Jacobs
- Chiara Aurelia