Review: 'Fear Street Part Two: 1978' offers up summer scares

The second part of the Netflix horror trilogy is an homage to 'Friday the 13th' and other summer camp-set scare fests.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

After a gangbusters opening chapter, the "Fear Street" trilogy — Netflix' innovative three-movies-in-three-weeks horror experiment — takes a small step back with its second chapter, "Fear Street Part Two: 1978." 

The follow-up to "Fear Street Part One: 1994" — a fun, frenzied "Scream" homage that introduced viewers to the cursed town of Shadyside and the teens who inhabit it — unfolds 16 years earlier, and is styled after "Friday the 13th" or "Sleepaway Camp," horror films set in the world of horny teens and hornier camp counselors holed up inside wooded cabins and mess halls at summer camp. 

Ted Sutherland and Sadie Sink in "Fear Street Part Two: 1978."

C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs), a survivor of previous attacks who the "1994" kids connect with at the end of "Part One," introduces this tale of her experiences at Camp Nightwing in the summer of '78. Back then she was Ziggy, a youngster at camp, whose goody-two-shoes sister Cindy (Emily Rudd) is a counselor alongside her boyfriend, Tommy Slater (McCabe Slye).

Same curse, different era. Sarah Fier, the witch who has haunted Shadyside for centuries, is up to her old ways, and gets into the head of good guy Tommy, turning him into a maniac killer. We saw him wielding his axe in "1994," "1978" acts as his origin story, showing how he terrorized the camp and its campers, giving the cool kids and the nerds, the preppies and the burners a reason to cast their differences aside and unite against a common enemy.  

"1978" plays it more straightforward than its predecessor; the self-awareness of the '90s teenagers is gone, and the tone is more serious. The soundtrack is stacked with classic rock hits ("Slow Ride," "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show," "Cherry Bomb") and director Leigh Janiak packs a trunk full of references to David Bowie. Yet "1994" set a high bar that "1978" can't quite reach. It's a slow ride that should have been a cherry bomb.


'Fear Street Part Two: 1978'


Rated R: for bloody horror violence, sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language throughout

Running time: 110 minutes

On Netflix