When seeing that Netflix advertised the Fear Street trilogy as the event of the summer and then getting to watch the first entry, I wasn’t completely sold on that praise but enjoyed the hell out of it nonetheless. It was a fun supernatural slasher that was heavily inspired by Scream and Halloween and all around a solid horror film. Going into the second film, Fear Street: 1978, I figured I would enjoy it a lot more as someone who is absolutely in love with summer camp slashers. As soon as the credits began to roll on this one I quickly realized that this film in particular was the one that would live up to the title of “event of the summer” because my god, this right here is the slasher us fans have been waiting so long for, and so much more.
Taking place once again in Shadyside, the second entry follows a group of teenagers who have been set up at Camp Nightwing during the summer of 1978. With the camp mixed of the upper class privileged Sunnysiders and the looked down upon underestimated Shadysiders, tensions are already high as the two sides clash at any and all causes. During the night of a large annual game of capture the flag, The Witch has once again possessed a Shadysider with the intent to wreak havoc and kill; only this time the camp teens and youths at large are thrown into danger and no one is safe.
One of the best aspects of the first film is its characters. It’s so rare that you go into a slasher and are given fleshed out, well written and likeable people to root for and this one continues to have that strength. Our leads in 1978 are the sister duo of Cindy, who’s easily the most responsible camp counsellor of the batch, and her rebellious younger sister Ziggy who is consistently the target of a group of Sunnyside mean girls. The dynamic between Cindy and Ziggy isn’t anything new but definitely adds tension to the plot and makes for much more interesting stakes. Cindy is very goal oriented and does everything in her power to fit in, succeed in all that she does and escape the mentality most Shadysiders have of not being able to escape their small town in pursuit of a better life. Then there’s Ziggy who feels that she has the world stacked against her and has accepted the fact that Shadyside is a leech that sucks every ounce of motivation and energy out of you. Both of their different points of views have driven a huge wedge between them and there’s clear distrust and petty behaviour shown; but when a killer is introduced you can tell that both of these girls will stop at nothing to make sure they both get out alive and no matter what nothing will separate them ever again.
Even though Cindy and Ziggy are just all around well written characters, it’s once again the performances that elevate this film with one incredible stand out in particular. Emily Rudd (The Romanoffs) who plays Cindy gives a well rounded performance from start to finish and he carries her arc of being the typical seemingly weak to badass final girl fairly well; but it’s Stranger Things star Sadie Sink as Ziggy who steals the show and effortlessly shines every moment that she’s in. Her performance in this film is easily my favourite of her filmography thus far; she’s undeniably badass and so damn cool from the second we’re introduced to her. There’s something about Sadie Sink that’s so charismatic and gives me the feeling that one day she’ll have “Best Actress” at the Oscars added to her resume. While I enjoyed other plot lines I just always wanted Sadie as Ziggy on my screen at all times. The film shines when she’s present and it’s for sure a testament to fantastic writing as well as the acting itself.
As for the violence and the killer, it’s top-notch. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a modern camp slasher and thought, this is everything I wanted. Well I finally got that. The killer in this film is quick, brutal and unapologetic leaving no one safe from the chaos and killings; even the younger characters in the film. Another refreshing aspect was that I rarely sat there thinking, this kill could have been avoided. Most of the reactions are quick and smart, kicking into gear as soon as they see an axe wielding maniac. It’s truly tiresome watching a film where the characters get picked off one by one in ways that were avoidable and way too predictable. So here’s a big thank you to director Leigh Janiak and her co-writer Zak Olkewicz for giving us slasher fans exactly what we’ve been waiting for; good kills, fantastic characters, thrilling chase sequences and gore galore.
Fear Street: 1978 is everything I wanted and more. There’s such a lack of passion put into the slasher genre up until lately and this film takes everything that worked about films like Friday The 13th, The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, and amplifies it to suit this modern age of slashers with a killer soundtrack to win over any audience. There’s just so much that this film did right and I genuinely do not know how the third and final installment could top this slasher masterpiece, but I’m keen to see how it turns out.
Fear Street: 1978 comes out July 9th on Netflix and if you enjoyed the first installment, you’re in for a major treat with this one.