Fear Street 1978 Doesn’t Have The Same Charm
Well, I was right about Fear Street: Part Two – 1978 on all points. It’s the blood-soaked, overly sexual pastiche that does a lot of strong character work propelled by excellent actors that I expected.
There are notable differences, though. And they’re mostly bad. The good is that the plot continues to develop the themes of the series and the lore in interesting ways. The social divide between Shadyside and Sunnyvale comes out even more in the competitive camp setting, and yet more commentary is made about how the curse smashes down Shadyside. We also get more about the witch’s curse and how it works. It’s not anything that wasn’t gotten across well enough in the first movie, but it’ll make the last movie more satisfying for having it all explored.
This Film Mostly Serves As Background Content
But this is where the negatives come into play—and it’s pretty much all negatives going forward. 1978 is resting on its laurels and belaboring the plot. It feels like this movie expected a much younger audience than the first and had to explain things repeatedly. There’s a running symbolic narrative with a sweater that gets so overdone it’s distracting, and that’s one of the cleverer motifs.
Where it becomes insufferable is the witch’s book. We hear very few passages read aloud from it seemingly every five minutes. The locations we get to explore deepens things and shows cool new details of the witch’s death, but we get that her hand was severed. We get it!
Fear Street 1978 Reiterates Way Too Much Lore
And really, this lack of confidence in the audience seems to permeate the proceedings. The soundtrack screams at you that the movie’s set in the past. They have so many licensed songs and they beat you over the head with them. Maybe twice is this done for solid effect, and not just an excuse to trigger nostalgia.
The editing has also suffered. In 1994, a sweeping time-lapse transition shot floored me with its technical beauty. This movie has no such tricks and is shot conventionally and with little creativity. It makes the movie feel deflated, like it’s lost a lot of its identity.
A Ton Of The Story Originality Has Disappeared
This lack, this dryness, even applies to the plot. It’s a guy with an ax running around a camp. The unique aspects of it are how much time we get to know the killer before he’s possessed, and his choice of victims. Say what you will of Fear Street: it doesn’t play coy. Child death is on the table, and no one is safe.
Except when they are. And perhaps this is the greatest issue of the structure: they’re tied down to rules. It being a trilogy hampers its options. The first movie marked certain characters as unkillable. The limits of the curse are mostly clear and known, so the mystery is gone. They can’t do much except play out the tropes and move and meet the plot where it was already standing.
The Prequel Is Trapped In Its Own Narrative Rules
If this wasn’t a necessary piece for 1666, I wouldn’t even be recommending it as anything more than a solidly acted popcorn slasher. But because of how wild and creative the final movie will probably be, you do need to see 1978. It’s simply a necessary steppingstone. A trip to summer camp that’s mostly disappointing but does have a few days where the appeal shines through all the same.
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