Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: Shadyside, 1978. School’s out for the 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.
Review: With the release of Part Two, Fear Street shows that it’s out to be more than your usual by-the-numbers sequel. Instead of continuing the story in the predictable fashion of moving forward director Leigh Janiak and writer Zak Olkewicz (Janiak also co-wrote the screenplay adaptation) we’re sent back 16 years into the past of Shadyside to learn about another infamous event in the history of the small town that may or may not be cursed by a witch named Sarah Fier.
While the first movie gave us nods to slashers flicks like Chopping Mall and Halloween, 1978 dives head first into the deep end of them, with Friday the 13th Part 1 and 2 coming to mind with just a dash of Evil Dead for good measure. The adoration for the genre is cranked all the way up here as we get a bit more information into who the witch of Shadyside was, where the curse may have originated and, since this is a slasher movie, lots of young victims for that oh so important body count.
While there are a lot of extras here the focus is on a few main characters, some of whom are still present in 1994 (when Part One is set). This summer camp is home to both kids of donwtrodden Shadyside and upper class Sunnyside which mean tensions are high as we’re introduced to Ziggy (Sadie Sink of Stranger Things) who has a run-in with possibly the most obnoxious group of kids ever found in these kinds of movies as they proceed to torture her and call her witch. To add to the drama she and her sister Cindy (Emily Rudd of The Romanoffs) have drifted apart because Cindy chooses to be more “responsible”. She also emulates the Sunnysiders in the way she acts and dress.
Things go from bad to worse when Ziggy’s friend and camp nurse Mary (Jordan Spiro of My Boys, Blindspot) attempts to murder Cindy’s boyfriend Jason Voorh-sorry, I meant Tommy Slater. And as the night wears on Cindy, her ex-best friend Alice (Ryan Simpkins) and Alice’s boyfriend Arnie (Sam Brooks) discover the hard way the curse of Shadyville might just be more truth than fiction.
It’s an impressive feat indeed that both Part One and Two of Fear Street have a runtime of nearly two hours yet I never felt bored with either of them. The pacing and the editing perfectly come together to present a slasher flick fans of the sub-genre can be sure to enjoy. This newest tale also digs much deeper not just into the backstory of the town and what or who is causing this place to become spree killer central, but it also digs into what makes slashers so entertaining in the first place. The violence and gore here might be too much for casual viewers but horror fans will be like the front row of a Seaworld show—getting soaked and having a blast in the process.
As I said above, the overall tone and look had me thinking of classics like The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th but it also evoked more modern series like American Horror Story as well. I think the latter was due to the uptick in brutality (even young kids die here, although they don’t go overboard and show it) as one of the reasons AHS has been so successful is they also don’t pull punches when it comes to blood and gore. The acting by our leads starts off a bit shaky for me, which may have been deliberate on their parts as it definitely made me think back to some of the more cringe-worthy performances I’ve seen in classic slasher flicks. But as the story moved on things settled in and got a lot better. Props especially goes to Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd and Ryan Simpkins. All three ladies dug deep and delivered on the more emotional moments of the film, and when they could’ve just played it safe or give us cliched characters they instead chose to bring depth to their parts, which made watching them flee for their lives all the more harrowing.
McCabe Slye who plays Tommy Slater deserves praise as well. His Jack Torrance meets Jason Voorhees was a thing of beauty (horror-wise) and whoever was responsible for choreographing his movement style and kills, standing ovation to you as well. This is NOT someone I would want to come across on a dark lonely night.
If you enjoyed Fear Street: 1994, I think you’ll absolutely love this one. While the first film had a bit of slow start as it laid the foundation for what was to come 1978 hits the ground running with a ton of energy, pitch-perfect tone, wonderful send-ups to the slasher movies of the 60s and 70s that inspired it, and all the blood and gore your horror-loving hearts could want.
Like its predecessor, it also leaves you excited for what’s to come next. So here’s hoping 1666 (the third and final film of this trilogy) takes the baton and the awesome lead created by the first two movies and runs all the way to the finish line.
Sommer’s Score: 8 out of 10
So what did you think of Fear Street: 1978? And you can check out more great horror content below:
‘Fear Street Part One: 1994’ is a Winning 80’s Slasher Homage
Duelling Reviews: Slasher Horror ‘Seance’
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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