FEAR STREET PART 2: 1978 (REVIEW)
Updated: Jul 25, 2021
Dir. Leigh Janiak
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
There isn't often that a sequel outweighs the original. To mention a few there's DAWN OF THE DEAD, ALIENS and TROLLS 2 but for every THE EVIL DEAD 2, there's a BLAIR WITCH 2, a LOST BOYS: THE TRIBE and an AMERICAN PSYCHO 2. But more often there are a band of sequels that carry on as the first one proceeded such as HALLOWEEN 2, FINAL DESTINATION 2 and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, not better, but maintaining the momentum of the first. FEAR STREET PART 2: 1978 is firmly in that banding.
Picking up moments after PART 1, it's not long before Deena and Josh are knocking at the door of the only survivor of Sarah Fier's curse of the town of Shadyside, a summer camp massacre. Rewind 16 years earlier and the film firmly sets it's inspiration in the opening frames, if PART 1 was a SCREAM imitation, PART 2 is the love child of FRIDAY THE 13TH and SLEEPAWAY CAMP. This time round we see Ziggy (Sadie Sink) and Cindy (Emily Rudd) as two sisters far apart amidst a group of campmates who are evidentially out to make sure Ziggy is kicked out of the camp. What follows is a possession from the witch and a hack and slash mash up of teen drama and gruesome killshots, accompanied by a soundtrack of 70's rock.
There are plenty of direct throwbacks to it's idols and the dull tones make this a great set piece in nostalgic storytelling. Where PART 1 was questioned on some of it's "not of the time" song choices, the faults here are more that the films of the late 70's and early 80's, especially those at the centre of the slasher genre, did not have big rock playlists and were more down to the scores of Harry Manfredini and Goblin. In fact, the boom of the summer camp slasher was a few years after '78 with FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), THE BURNING (1981), MADMAN (1982) and SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) all arriving several years after the films setting. Luckily, the score itself is magnificently in touch with the action and there are more than a few nods to the scores of the era. However, while the historic references and tone are present, that's not to take away from 1978's passion for the summer slasher and it has in itself managed to be unique enough to stand on it's own two feet as Janiak did with 1994.
As with PART 1, where this sequel excels is it's gripping pairing between teen drama and violent slasher. Retaining the 18 rating of it's predecessor, there's no lack of blood and heavy bolts of "ouch-my-face" as the possessed marries an axe to celebrate with the remaining camp mates and 'til death they do part.
Despite the story being front and centre a summer camp slasher, it does take a hefty tour to get there as we see Ziggy and Alice (Ryan Simpkins) get lost under the camp and uncover the witch's existence and up until the midway point there's little to make you consider where it's going but when the killer is finally possessed the doors are kicked right open. Fortunately for Janiak, there are a few plays on genre stereotypes and homages that work really well but the ending will question everything you know about medical science.
This sequel is darker and more straight this time round which takes a more serious take on the deaths. As such taking away some of the fun that 1994 gave us but is no less dull because of it.