Fear Street: 1978 (2021)

Fear Street: 1978
Director: Leigh Janiak
Writer: Zak Olkewicz, Leigh Janiak
Based on: R.L. Stine‘s series
Sequel to: Fear Street: 1994
Cast: Emily Rudd, Sadie Sink, McCabe Slye, Ryan Simpkins, Ted Sutherland, Sam Brooks, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Gillian Jacobs, Jordana Spiro, Ashley Zukerman
Seen on: 8.8.2021

After Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her friends tracked down the sole survivor of the massacre at Camp Nightwing, and the only person they know who escaped the witch, they ask her (Gillian Jacobs) what happened at the camp in 1978. Back then sisters Ziggy (Sadie Sink) and Cindy (Emily Rudd) couldn’t have been more different, but they were both at the camp and preparing for the annual Sunnyvale vs Shadyside capture the flag game. But then Cindy’s boyfriend Tommy (McCabe Slye) is attacked, apparently without reason, by the camp Nurse (Jordana Spiro). And that’s only the beginning of the bloodbath.

Fear Street: 1978 has the challenging job of making us care for characters and a story of which we already know the ending, but it does so very well, mixing likeable characters with backstory revelations that kept my interested and involvement in the story.

The film poster showing an axe, a pitchfork and a knifedrenched in blood, all stuck in the floor.

I was curious to see how they would make a sequel to a film that takes place earlier than the first part (and I’m still curious how they’ll finish everything by going even further back to the past in the next installment), and I have to say that I really liked the structure they used here. Yes, it’s a challenge to not feel hopeless when you know going into the camp that there was only one survivor, but this feeling of no escape and being trapped feels very fitting for the overall theme of the Shadysiders who are so very stuck in their positions.

The film does try a couple of tricks to make you care anyway, the biggest being [SPOILER] trying to surprise you with which sisters survived the camp. I am saying trying because I could see the supposed switch coming practically from the beginning of the film – and mostly because Sadie Sink just absolutely looks like Gillian Jacobs. I think it’s the first time that a casting ruined a film surprise for me. [/SPOILER] But more importantly, I just liked the Shadysiders and so the inevitability of their demises hit me anyway. Especially Alice, played with gusto by Ryan Simpkins, is a winner. Well, of hearts at least.

Cindy (Emily Rudd) and Ziggy (Sadie Sink) arguing at the camp.

I also found the additional info about Sarah Fier that the film gives us very interesting – and yet again, the film managed to surprise me there a little bit, adding yet another bit that keeps things from feeling too predictable.

Of course, with the setting at the summer camp, the film wears its references on its sleeves. And again, it plays nicely with the music of the time it is set in, feeling right at home in the horror canon it both pays tribute to and rethinks in a couple of ways.

Cindy (Emily Rudd), Alice (Ryan Simpkins) and Arnie (Sam Brooks) looking down a hole.

Summarizing: a satisfying sequel and prequel at the same time.

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