An improvement on the original.
The Fear Street trilogy so far feels like something that would have come out in the 90s, which makes a lot of sense since the books the movies are based on came out in the 90s. While the first part felt like a 90s romp of nostalgia, the second part in the trilogy takes us all the way back to the 70s with its Friday the 13th aesthetic and all the summer camp horror slasher moments you’d come to expect.
Actually it’s more like Sleepaway Camp, but that’s neither here nor there.
The first part of the Fear Street trilogy set the groundwork for the world the movie inhabits. Shadyside is a crappy town, the kind that had a curse placed upon it centuries ago by a witch and has since mostly bred serial killers and losers. Our surviving heroes from the first movie track down C. Berman, the only known survivor of the witch’s curse in a desperate plea to help save their friend who was possessed by the witch at the end of the first movie. This sets the stage for part two, which takes the form of a flashback story.
Part 2 takes place in the 1978 as child forms of Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink) and Cindy Berman (Emily Rudd) try to survive a massacre at their summer camp. There’s an interesting element in that we know some facts going into the movie including that C. Berman’s sister is murdered and what the general body count is.
Much of the plot follows the strained relationship between Ziggy and Cindy and of course between Sunnyvale and Shadyside. Ziggy is the younger sister who gets bullied by the other camp kids to the point where they try to hang her as a witch while Cindy tries as hard as possible to be seen as one of the Sunnyvale kids by not swearing and wearing a white polo. It’s a classic individual nihilist vs conformist optimist rivalry.
Fear Street Part 2 is very 70’s nostalgia at its core. There’s a lot of camp counselor banging, doing drugs, banging some more, and generally causing mischief and saying bad words. It does avoid the trope of the masked killer being used as a cheap plot device for instilling cosmic punishment on said teens for their banging and electric lettuce smoking, so it does rid itself of that old plot device.
One aspect where the movie falls a bit short is in the murders, and I understand why to an extent. The Fear Street people have no problem showing folks getting violently murdered, providing those victims aren’t children. Those kids get killed off-screen in an audibly brutal fashion and we do see the results, but we can’t see it happen. I get it. Having an eighteen year old get his head caved in with an axe is unsettling. Having a fat child get dismembered on-screen in the same fashion is how you get your network boycotted by everyone.
The film is also acutely aware of things we already know. Young Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland) appears in the film as a camp counselor. We know he goes on to become Sheriff Nick Goode (Ashley Zukerman) in the future, and casts his scenes accordingly without going to hard on convincing the audience he’s in danger. It’s a thematically much darker story than the first one, and plays its kills with more oomph and impact.
Overall Fear Street Part Two is an improvement to part one. And in the finale we get to see the 1600s as God intended; on the big screen*
*provided you own a big screen.