Fear Street Part 2 is an intriguing yet routine slasher picture.
Fear Street Part 2: 1978 (2021) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on August 3, 2021
Rating 2.5 /5
The continuation of Fear Street finds the teenagers of 1994 digging into the past for answers. They encountered a survivor of the witch’s curse that led to an outbreak of murders in the town of Shadyside. When demanding the answers, the survivor says that her tale is a long one that involved a bloody rampage at a summer camp. What follows is a camp slasher that plays into a lot of familiar tropes.
A flashback to 1978 follows a collective of young campers at Camp Nightwing. Among the campers are residents of rival towns Shadyside and Sunnyvale. Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink) has just arrived at camp and she’s already singled out for being from Shadyside. Sheila, a camper from Sunnyvale, claims that Ziggy is a thief and that she should be strung up in a cruel bit of bullying. So the rivalry is quite potent in the camp as a less violent battle of wits is on for the summer, with campers of the feuding towns trying to find a way to one-up the other.
The camp becomes the perfect platform for a curse when the troublemaking Tommy Slader discovers one of the campers has made a deal with the devil. Later, as night descends, a mysterious cave reveals names carved on the walls. One of the latest names is Tommy. Soon, Tommy is a possessed killer who is rampaging across the campgrounds, slaughtering campers with an ax. It’s up to the handful of teens and kids present to both survive the night and find a way to break the curse.
Despite the building lore of trying to decipher the power behind a witch’s curse, this Fear Street entry is one of the most standards of adhering to the tropes of the summer camp slasher formula. Teenagers spend more time engaging in cynical sex than watching after the campers, their antics often being followed up with a bloody climax of the killer behind them. That being said, the staging is not too shabby. The camp setting is believable, the ensemble cast has their charms, and the atmosphere plays up the sub-genre straight.
That straightforward nature, however, also happens to be its own shortcoming. The kills in this sequel/prequel are a bit lacking when compared to Part 1. The highlight of Part 1 was by far the moment when one of the teenagers gets their head shoved through a meat-processor that grinds them into a mesh. The most notable kill of Part 2 is a decapitation where a head is severed and the body falls into a cave, trapping some screaming victims. The violence is still bloody and shocking but this is by far the most subtle, considering the body count is higher than the money shots. This may have something to do with some of the kills involving tweens considering their deaths are less showy, reduced to off-screen kills with bits of blood left behind.
The brooding elements of the curse are still intriguing even if they’re parsed out rather slowly for this bridge film. Bits and pieces of the mysterious become intriguing, trying to dissect the rules of how the curse chooses a new body and what was the history behind the curse. Of course, the big reveal is reserved for Part 3, and hashing out the mechanics of this entry are thankfully reserved to the immediate needs of the campers which are to both survive and defeat.
Fear Street Part 2 is an intriguing yet routine slasher picture. We get a few more answers to the story that started in 1994 but we spend most of the film stuck in 1978 with all the familiar slasher tropes and components. On that level, the film is merely a decent horror picture despite being intriguing enough to venture into Part 3 to find out how the curse can finally be lifted.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.