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Sequels can be worrisome, especially when they come from the world of slasher horror. Sure, the story and universe can be expanded through another story, but making real additions to the lore and varying up the kills are crucial to keeping the audience interested when handling subsequent rounds of cinematic bloodletting. In the specific case of Fear Street Part 2: 1978, the movie was crafted as the middle part of a narrative designed to play out over three features, but there are still concerns that any genre fan wouldn’t be blamed for pondering. However, as Netflix releases co-writer/director Leigh Janiak’s second installment of the trilogy, audiences will see that the series has killed it again, making some confident and horrific strides.
Picking up where Fear Street: Part 1 - 1994 left off, 1978 is a feature length flashback to the referenced Camp Nightwing Massacre in the titular year. The curse of Sarah Fier is alive and well, picking the night that a Color War unfolds between campers from Shadyside and Sunnyvale to rear its horrific head. With two sisters (Emily Rudd and Sadie Sink) caught in the crossfire, the story of the night an axe-wielding psycho mows down almost an entire summer camp reveals more key information behind the menace introduced in the previous installment of the series.
Continuing the story from its predecessor, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is an effortless continuation in tone and content.
Independently, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 has to be two things at once in its story: a stand-alone film that explains the tragedy of the Berman sisters, and a slasher fest centering on the slaughter of Camp Nightwing. But on top of those functions, this movie also has to serve as a second panel in a triptych that is the trilogy. It’s a balancing act that could trip anyone up, but Leigh Janiak's movie smoothly glides on blood-greased tracks.
Reflecting on the clues and mentions of the events strewn that are through Fear Street Part 1: 1994, it’s easy to sink into the retro soaked atmosphere of Fear Street Part 2: 1978 – even if you were really digging the ‘90s vibes of the past film. The soundtrack’s jukebox is just as sharp, the kills are just as brutal (if not more), and the stakes rise ever higher as the mystery of Camp Nightwing stands on its own two feet while perfectly feeding into both the past and the future of Fear Street’s three-act horrorshow.
Taking its cues from Halloween and Friday the 13th, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is more old school slasher fun.
Something that needs to be said about Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is that, so far, Leigh Janiak’s trilogy seems to be doing something rather awesome with the sorts of horror movies it takes its cues from. With the previous film cribbing inspiration from Scream and ‘90s meta-slashers, this chapter is very much playing by the book that we saw originate that subgenre through Halloween and Friday the 13th. But just as she did in Fear Street Part 1: 1994, Janiak uses those influences to continue telling this overarching new story in R.L. Stine’s YA fiction universe.
If you really enjoyed its predecessor, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is more of the same in the best way possible. Characters are still engaging and befitting of a slasher movie crew, and the audience will find themselves mourning the loss of the new friends presented at the beginning. However, that doesn’t mean that the continued indulgence in slasher fun and cool characters is a rote experience, as the story linking this entire trilogy gets its strongest tease yet thanks to the storytelling remaining on point throughout what we've seen so far.
Ending on an even larger cliffhanger, fans invested in Fear Street are going to be on the edge of their seats waiting for Part 3.
The strongest advantage of the Fear Street trilogy is that the presence of a plan means that each film has the perfect cliffhanger ending to tease the ride ahead. Fear Street Part 2 - 1978 has an even more compelling hook to bring audiences back for Fear Street Part 3 - 1666, and with the way that this second film ends, this series looks like the biggest frights are being saved for the final round.
Two weeks into the Netflix trilogy, and Fear Street Part 2 - 1978 has already proven that this experiment in a tightly knit trio of films was a fantastic gamble. With only one final domino left to fall, there’s a possibility that this series might not stick the landing. However, that doesn’t seem like a likely scenario, as the Fear Street trilogy has already deftly experimented in telling one cohesive narrative with a variety of inspirations flavoring the stories it tells along the way. It’ll be hard for audiences to wait for one final week, but if the first sequel is any indication, that patience will undoubtedly be rewarded with an epically haunting finale.