Fear Street Part 2: 1978 – Review

Cert – 18, Run-time – 1 hour 50 minutes, Director – Leigh Janiak

A group of teenage camp leaders are terrorised by a possessed killer (McCabe Slye), further linking to a long-lasting witch’s curse on their towns.

By opening with the words “previously on Fear Street” Leigh Janiak’s second instalment in the trilogy based on R.L. Stine’s teen horror book series further poses itself as something more alike to a TV series. The teen drama tone is certainly still there, in fact it feels more present in this follow-up than in the first instalment. However, there appears to be a more rounded story present within this film as we see the counsellors, and campers, of Camp Nightwing terrorised by a possessed killer (McCabe Slye). The story is told to us in a flashback by Cindy Berman (Gillian Jacobs), reciting the story of her survival to the two remaining from the 1994-set events of the first film, teenagers Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her younger brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.).

The siblings are trying to find out how they can stop the witch’s curse that infects the local area, possessing people and turning them into mindless killing machines, however need Cindy’s reluctant help. How did she survive? Barely. Especially amongst the high body count that this film boasts. Boasts being the key word. The extent of the various killings, slashings, hackings and more – all mostly caused by the same axe wielding victim – is shown on screen with a fair deal of dark red detail. And yet, this level of violence, similarly, feels unwarranted. Not properly built up to or as if it doesn’t quite suit the tone that the film has set before things finally start to kick off. Moving away from poorly scripted town rivalries and teenage sexcapades into poorly scripted screaming and teenage sexcapades.

For the most part we follow Cindy’s (the younger, 1978, version of Cindy played by Emily Rudd) bullied outsider sister Ziggy (Sadie Sink). Already split away from every familiar face in camp as she begins to form a connection with counsellor Nick (Ted Sutherland), especially as her ex-boyfriend, Tommy, of two hours ago is now a crimson-stained axe murderer, Ziggy is left abandoned and alone in the dark woods of the camp. Many other characters find themselves in similar looking locations meaning that often the film jumps back and forth from person to person, while also remembering that it apparently needs to kill someone else and making sure to get that out of the way before going back to the lack of progressions that the central figures are making. It all makes for a long film, the almost two hour run-time is felt. Plenty of scenes feel far too busy, and yet somehow lacking in substance. Loosing your attention and while feeling more like a rounded feature providing the feeling that this could easily be cut down into something more like a TV special.

The loose plot begins to weight heavily on the viewer. In hand are the increasingly felt clichés. When it comes to the conventions that lie within the film it could easily be possible that the course that the narrative walks along is intentionally traditional; as if feeling like an homage to classic slasher flicks of around the era in which the film is set – although it, once again, feels as if it could almost all be set in the modern day. However, as things progress this feeling slips away and the clichés begin to properly get in the way. There’s a lack of connection, and therefore response to much that happens, between the viewer and the film. As things become increasingly ridiculous and somewhat overblown in the final stages of the film you simply find yourself realising just how disengaged you are with the piece as a whole. By the end it repeats the feeling that it’s simply building up to the next, and this time final, instalment in the trilogy. Albeit an unsatisfying one with little effect. Luckily, the preview just before the credits does a good job of building up interest.

While feeling like a more rounded film, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is a long and lacking slasher, more focused on raising its body count than developing an unsatisfying narrative or dialogue.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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