“Fear Street: 1978” – Review

Last week, Netflix’s adaptation of R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” made waves throughout the entire horror community.  Fear Street 1994 drew inspiration from 90s slashers like Scream, with a dose of Stranger Things-esque nostalgia.

Ending on something of a cliffhanger, Fear Street 1978 takes things back two decades to tell a camp slasher story in the spirit of Friday the 13th, The Burning, and Sleepaway Camp.  And honestly, it might be even better!

Sole Survivor
Opening in 1994 still, we see Deena and Josh (with possessed Sam in the trunk) going to C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs) to gain insight on how she survived.  She had previously told them it was over and that they’re best bet was to simply run.  But given Sam’s condition, Deena is unwilling to give up like that.  Berman seems perpetually on edge, clearly still suffering from the trauma of her own past, tells the story of Camp Nightwing.

FS 1
Gillian Jacobs only has a few minutes of screen time, but she gives an amazing and underrated performance.

Camp Nightwing
We then flashback to 1978 and are introduced to Cindy Berman (Emily Rudd) and her younger sister Ziggy (Sadie Sink).  Cindy is a counselor at Camp Nightwing, where she’s known for being a bit of a square, as she is repulsed by smoking, drugs, sex, and swearing.  Ziggy, one of the campers, is a bit of a rebel, who incurs the wrath of a bully, and nearly gets herself kicked out.

Much like the previous installment, a series of murders is kicked off by someone being possessed by the vengeful spirit of the witch.  What follows is the full story behind the infamous massacre that the characters discussed in 1994.  Complete with some great gore, a dash sex leading to death in a slasher, and even a few familiar faces as the killers of old resurface in spirit form.

FS 7
We saw this killer resurface in 1994, but this is where he began. One of many in a long line of possessed souls the witch has claimed.

A Tale of Two Sisters
At its heart, Fear Street 1978 is poignant redemption arc between two sisters.  Its character-driven elements are far better than that of 1994.  From the start, there’s a very wide gap in personality types, as well as sense that both sisters look down on the other.  Which makes it all the more tragic, knowing that only one of them survives to become the sheltered and traumatized adult C. Berman.

Inspiration vs. Imitation
Much like Netflix’s mega-popular Stranger Things, Fear Street certainly draws from horror classics.  Even writing this review, I keep wanting to refer to the camp as Camp Arrowhead, rather than Nightwing, because I keep thinking of Sleepaway Camp.

The overarching premise of a curse that returns ever so many years also sounds quite similar to another famous horror novel/movie, Stephen King’s It.  Even the bully Sheila, who’s angry at Ziggy for stealing $10 is literally ready to set her on fire (much to the horror of her own friends), which goes so much farther than normal bullying would go.  Her downright psychotic behavior calls back another criminally insane bully, Henry Bowers from the aforementioned Stephen King classic.

FS 2
Sheila’s definitely capable of murder…

Thus far, Fear Street has been well made from a technical standpoint.  And while the first part was criticized for being a bit hollow, this one does improve on its characters and tension.  All that said, the story itself does feel very heavily “inspired” by previous classics.  It’s a fun watch, but hopefully, next week’s finale will deliver on something truly original and compelling.

But for fans of summer camp slashers from the 70’s/80’s, Fear Street 1978 will be even more fun than 1994 was.  And its first and last 15 minutes serve as a great continuation of the story that will hopefully pay off brilliantly next week!

1666
Next week’s finale will no doubt have us all reminiscing about The Witch and The Crucible

What did you think of Fear Street 1978?  How do you think this trilogy will end?  Let us know in the comments!

Fear Street 1994 and 1978 are streaming exclusively on Netflix

Fear Street 1666 debuts on Friday, July 16, 2021

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