Netflix’s Fear Street (Part 2) 1978 Review
With its second entry, 1978, Netflix’s Fear Street film series takes viewers into a summer camp slasher to peel back more layers on its central mystery and spill blood every which way.
Just as writer/director Leigh Janiak immersed us into a meta-filled 90s slashers, she does it again with a summer camp slasher that’s a great mix of Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp. There’s plenty of sex, bullying, camp rivalries, drug binges, and even crazier gory kills – all fitting for a late 70s/early 80s summer slasher. We even get to see the origins of the bag-headed, axe-swinging killer we saw last week and learn more about the man under the mask Tommy Slater (McCabe Syle). We also get a little more of the oldie singing slasher Ruby Lane (Jordyn DiNatale) as her mother Mary (Jordana Spiro) works at the cursed Camp Nightwing and is still haunted by the tragedy of her daughter killing people before taking her own life. Mary is sort of this small, but central character that kicks everything off.
Although key details from Sarah Fier’s (Elizabeth Scopel) curse and death are still kept secret, there are some new details that opens things up a little more. The nose bleeds that we’ve seen Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) have happen because Sarah’s presence is near, so now we have a sign for when things are about to get bad. Camp Nighthawk is actually a pivotal location in Sarah’s story since it used to be the settlement where she cut off her hand to put a curse on Shadyside and there are a lot of discoveries made here about the satanic ritual lands she once used. We also see that this curse really only affect Shadysiders as the killers solely attacks people from Shadyside.
It’s actually very fascinating to see people living in Sunnyvale be pretty much ignored by these masked killers and the fact that all of this happens during the Shadyside/Sunnyvale camp color war adds in this visual that makes it all the more apparent that Shadysiders are doomed. This entry continues to showcase the sense of hopelessness and despair for those from Shadyside and that the Sunnyvale residents view Shadysiders as pure evil. There’s nothing that shows this more than the rivalry we see from popular Sunnyvaler Sheila (Chiara Aurelia) and rebellious Shadysider Ziggy (Sadie Sink) – who is being targeted by Sheila and her friends because they believe that she’s a witch. It’s these beliefs that Sunnyvalers have about Shadysiders that really get you wondering the role they might play in this whole curse thing.
I mean, there was likely a time when these neighboring towns were one settlement and it’s interesting to see both Mayor and Sheriff Goode’s younger selves roaming around the camp as counselors. Even in the film we learn that people, especially Ziggy, believe that Goodes have a good life ahead of them and we see that that’s come true for both of them in the present day. Especially, now seeing that this last film transports Deena back to 1666 to see where things went wrong, I’m definitely getting some Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope vibes that are making me believe that Sarah might not be the gruesome witch we’ve been seeing her as and that Sunnyvalers, especially the Goodes, have a more sinister, unearthed history.
Aside from it continuing to build out its mythos, 1978 is another great slasher flick that delivers some good emotional moments, characters, and amazingly bloody kills. Like any great slasher sequel, 1978 features many more kills that up the gore and can get crazy as hell. There’s a decapitation that totally catches you off guard and plenty of hacking with Tommy running around with his axe. Tommy paints the camp red and doesn’t come alone since we get to see even more slashers come back through Sarah’s power.
The characters are just as strong, if not stronger, as we get a lot of great relationships built that flesh out some inner struggles about your hometown defining you and mending relationships. The small romance that blossoms between Ziggy and a young Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland) is incredibly sweet and interesting given where they are in the present. With Nick fulfilling his prophecy in becoming sheriff and a now adult Ziggy (Gillian Jacobs) haunted by a tragedy no one will believe, they’ve let the cycle continue. Ziggy’s sister Cindy (Emily Rudd) also goes through some interesting growth as she sheds the pristine, virgin mold she’s shaped herself to be in order to try and escape Shadyside while talking to Alice (Ryan Simpkins) – a friend she left behind. The time given to Cindy and Alice exploring their feelings about Shadyside and their friendship pays off immensely in not only exploring the impact Shadyside’s curse has had on them deeper, but makes their characters have an emotional arc throughout the film.
The way the story ends for Cindy and Ziggy’s sibling relationship is an emotional peak that really hits. Although they start off on different pages and a little at each other’s throats, they really come together in the end and it’s what makes them both getting axed that much more traumatizing and heartbreaking. Rudd and Sink’s performances are great throughout the film but reach much deeper emotions in the end and the final moment between the two really sticks with you and cuts deep. Also, this film continues to subvert expectations since it really caught me off guard that an older Ziggy is actually telling the story since Cindy had “final girl” written all over her.
Fear Street continues to deliver some delightful slasher fun with 1978 taking things to summer camp to up the gore factor, create emotional connections and character growth that cuts deep, and further divulge its mythos to set the stage for its final entry to pull the pieces together.