Per Matt
A witch and a town curse… is there no end to the pain the inhabitants of Shadyside must endure? While many believe their days of suffering have nothing to do with tall tales and urban legends, their bad luck has persisted for a long, long time. Maybe a couple of open-minded teenagers can course-correct, while hoping to just survive somehow…

There were plenty of retro movie vibes in Fear Street Part One: 1994, but that story hasn’t ended, yet. Director Leigh Janiak returns to “Killer Capital, USA” once more in Fear Street Part Two: 1978. Picking up the pieces from the first installment, it seems a witch’s curse has haunted a former final girl for nearly 20 years. Totally traumatized by an unreal murder spree, C. Berman is unwilling to address her current condition until she’s forced to relive her past.

“In Shadyside, the past is never really past.”

While attending an unforgettable summer camp (for all the wrong reasons), a young Ziggy Berman (played by Sadie Sink) is tortured by the other teenage girls, who are being mean girls, for real. The Shadyside-Sunnyvale rivalry is still there, so is revenge from beyond the grave. The annual Color War (which is actually Capture the Flag outside a video game console) leads into a killing spree and then the occult takes center stage as Sarah Fier’s backstory slowly unspools.

The Camp Nightwing tragedy presents monsters (mostly) of the human variety, but there are a few good jump scares near its conclusion. Are these characters actually cursed souls living within a cursed history? Or will they go the extra mile in order to control their own destiny? Their attempts might just wind up destroying their lives, regardless of their choices.

“Bad things always happen to Shadysiders…”

Just like in Part One, music plays a major role in setting the on-screen mood. The first chapter of this franchise did feel a lot like it was following the Scream formula, but this one took an even older approach. Obviously tweaking the storyline from Friday the 13th (with shades of John Carpenter’s Halloween), Part Two creates a nightmare scenario for its visitors. Unfortunately, there’s no offense or defense for the victims here. As soon as they face the Big Bad, they whimper — there’s a whole lot of flight and no fight. This is my biggest complaint of the movie.

Out of all the campers, not one remotely attempts to defend themselves, let alone fight back against the everlasting evil until the final girl ultimately makes her stand. While it could be realistic, I’m unsure if this story element comes from R.L. Stine’s original book series (which this film is adapted from) or the collective minds of filmmaker Janiak and her producers. Either way, I didn’t like this situation one bit. I did enjoy learning about Crazy Nurse Lane and the Witch’s Mark, though.

While Skull Mask made a strong impression in Part One, the Big Bad here was nothing iconic. In fact, it’s not until the climax when that person actually wears a mask for the very first time. That definitely felt like a missed opportunity for the character to live on for many years to come as an original Halloween costume idea.

Overall, I really did enjoy the storyline and its direction much more in Part Two and I’m hoping that goodwill increases with the final chapter. Next week, Netflix wraps up the trilogy with Fear Street Part Three: 1666. It’s an exploration of Shadyside’s sinister history, 300 years in the making. I’m already looking forward to it.