'Fear Street Part 2: 1978' Ups the Ante with Even More Gruesome Gore

Directed by Leigh Janiak

Starring Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Gillian Jacobs, McCabe Slye, Ryan Simpkins, Ted Sutherland, Kiana Madeira

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jul 7, 2021

This ain't your dad's Fear Street. Sure, R.L. Stine's '90s book series was kinda gory, but they were still young adult novels at their core — not the kind of stories where children get their faces chopped in half by an axe murderer.

The same can't be said for Netflix's Fear Street Trilogy, which are full-on slashers that find a perfect middle ground with gore that's gruesome without being torturous. (Less comical than Kill Bill, less sadistic than Saw.)

Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is a summer camp slasher that's possibly even grimmer than Part 1: 1994 — especially since many of the victims here are preteens. It finds the kids from Part 1 visiting a grown-up Ziggy Berman (Gillian Jacobs) to learn how she survived a witch's curse back in 1978. We then flash back to the time period in question, as a teenage Ziggy (Sadie Sink) and her sister Cindy (Emily Rudd) fight to survive when Cindy's boyfriend Tommy (McCabe Slye) becomes possessed and goes on a murderous rampage at camp.

The film highlights the traumas of teenage life — peer pressure, bullying and cliques — before shifting into horrors of the more blood-and-guts variety. It also digs further into the mythology of the first film, as the kids attempt to solve the curse of 17th century witch Sarah Fiers. There are some clever throwbacks to Part 1 along the way (such as how the Cowboy Junkies' cover of "Sweet Jane" appeared in 1994, while the Velvet Underground's original version appears here).

It's an intriguingly witchy story, but the real hook here is the death scenes. An outhouse beheading is particularly memorable, and the blood-soaked, axe-wielding Tommy is a perfect horror baddie. With claustrophobic scenes in a network of underground tunnels and spooky chases through the forest, Part 2 offers genuine scares, which are sold perfectly by the young cast. Sadie Sink is especially visceral as the scares escalate in the film's second half. This classic-style slasher doesn't reinvent the genre, but it's a little less explicitly nostalgic than 1994, even with a straight-outta-the-'70s soundtrack that includes David Bowie, the Runaways and the Buzzcocks.

Part 2: 1978 perfectly cues up the pagan horror of the upcoming Part 3: 1666. If you ever wished Stranger Things were a little less '80s and a lot more disgusting, Fear Street hits the mark.

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