After sinking my teeth into Netflix’s Fear Street Part One: 1994 (read the review here) and thoroughly enjoying it, it seemed only right to enjoy Part Two in anticipation of the final entry of the trilogy.
As I outlined in my review for Part One, it sets up its sequel nicely: we know exactly what to expect in terms of both narrative and general tone, and as such, Part Two both has an easy job and an incredibly hard one – it has to maintain the same balance as Part One with a whole new cast in a whole different era, and still further the story enough to warrant a full movie.
Right off the bat, it does so fairly well. There’s a little bit of posturing and narrative framing before we’re transported back to 1978, and once we are, we’re greeted by a fairly familiar cast of characters: the ones we expected to meet and the ones that exist in almost every slasher ever made.
There’s Ziggy (Sadie Sink), the young rebel outcast, her sister, Cindy (Emily Rudd), a stoner couple (Ryan Simpkins and Sam Brooks), a young version of future police chief Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland), and Cindy’s ill-fated (/cursed) boyfriend, Tommy (McCabe Slye).
Front and center is that good ol’ American classic, the summer camp, and all of the characters fit into the roles of either counsellors or campers, making for a dynamic that’s actually a little played out. In fact, for nearly the whole first half of the film, everything seemed to drag as we watched the characters go through the same series of revelations that we witnessed in Part One, only to have them elaborated on ever-so-slightly in the second half.
Sadie Sink in particular is excellent in her role, although there’s actually a lot of solid acting talent on display. Much like in Part One, the cinematography is excellent, and visually, the film is entirely sound – it even goes the extra mile in capturing that ’70s look, with all the short-shorts and shaggy hairdos you’d expect. However, this forced nostalgia actually went a little too far when it came to the soundtrack. To start with, hearing a era-defining classic was fun, but after the fourth, fifth, tenth – however many we got up to in the end – it was decidedly played out. Moreover, the songs used didn’t correspond in any particularly meaningful way to the film’s story or characters, they were simply thrown in as another way of reminding the audience what decade we were watching, and it felt all too much like being slapped in the face with it.
That said, the film really does come into its own in the second half, and once the story begins picking up, Part Two is able to catch up to the standards set by Part One.
Summary: Where Part One was subtly subversive, Part Two abandons this to fully embrace the cliché – making a summer camp axe massacre only a little less exciting than it should have been. It’s a lot of fun, still, but it just failed to capture the offbeat magic of Part One.
Highlight: The added context to Shadyside’s curse is interesting and sets Part Three up nicely – and the inevitable realisation that the killer(s) can’t be stopped by any normal means was played off expertly by Sink and Rudd and Simpkins.