“The Summer of Fear” continues on Netflix with the release of “Fear Street Part 2: 1978,” the second part of their R.L. “Goosebumps” Stine trilogy about the cursed town of Shadyside, where terrible things have been happening for three hundred years.
Moving backwards in time sixteen years from the first instalment, this movie takes place in 1978. Against a classic slasher movie backdrop, a local sleep-away on a lake called Camp Nightwing, a group of teens, half from the Richie-rich town of Sunnyvale, the others from the possibly possessed Shadyside, get ready for a summer of swimming, campfires, secret hook-ups and… murder. As Ziggy Berman (“Stranger Things’” Sadie Sink) says, “bad things always happen to Shadysiders.”
Cue the gallons of blood, masked killer, a pentagram and more clues as to why some Shadysiders just can’t stop killing people. With axes.
In real life 1978 was a pretty good year for horror movies. “Halloween,” “Stranger in Our House” and “Dawn of the Dead” all dropped that year, and all feel like they are paid homage to by director Leigh Janiak. “Friday the 13th” also looms large over “Part 2,” both in vibe and look.
Janiak is faithful to the tropes of vintage slasher films, and despite the young adult label that comes with Stine’s work, doesn’t spare the blood, allusions to sex, the language or the scares. Characters we care about are offed with mighty swings of an axe, blood squirts and the teens react how teens would react, by using language that may make mom and dad blush.
“Fear Street Part 2: 1978” may look in the rear view mirror for inspiration but what is innovative is the way it links with the other two movies, connecting the narrative over the course of the trilogy. They aren’t sequels to one another, but one Shady-verse, bound by a certain set of rules, some of the same characters and lots and lots of gore.
“Fear Street Part 2: 1978” is rated R for obvious reasons, but the rating feels necessary and authentic to the genre. What feels less necessary are scenes of exposition and a drawn-out storyline between Ziggy and sister Cindy (Emily Rudd), but when the rest works so well, these are quibbles.