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In her second blog on Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy, Lakkaya Palmer reviews the 1978 instalment, where slasher tropes abound…

Fear Street: Part Two – 1978 premiered on Netflix on 9 July 2021, the second instalment in the Fear Street trilogy (see my review of Part One here). The opening of Part Two sees Deena and Josh restrain a possessed Sam before travelling to the house of Camp Nightwing survivor, C. Berman. Berman relates how she lost her sister to the witch’s curse. She warns Deena and Josh that “the past is never really the past”, and we go back in time to watch how the nightmare unfolded for her in 1978.

Camp Nightwing

In July 1978, Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink) and her older sister Cindy (Emily Rudd) are at Camp Nightwing for the summer, Ziggy as a camper and Cindy as a counsellor. Ziggy is constantly taunted by a girl named Sheila, from Sunnyvale (on the Sunnyvale/Shadyside rivalry, see Part One). Sheila and her friends attempt to hang Ziggy from a tree.

Sunnyvalers taunt Ziggy Berman

Two camp counsellors – a young Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland) (the Sheriff in the 1994 instalment) and Kurt (Michael Provost) – intervene to stop the bullying. The scene is reminiscent of that in De Palma’s Carrie (1978) where Carrie is mocked in the shower room by a group of girls and ultimately saved by her gym teacher.

The Berman sisters are opposites. Cindy seems to desperately crave the acceptance of the Sunnyvalers, whereas Ziggy loathes them (and rightfully so). Whilst audiences can sympathise with Cindy’s motivations, she seems clueless as to how snobbish and horrible the people of Sunnyvale are, almost disregarding the bullying of her sister.

Two girls walking through woods
Cindy Berman (left), Ziggy Berman (right)

Cindy prioritises making enough money to leave Shadyside and going to college and is unapologetic about this. This echoes 1994, in which Katie and Josh were only selling drugs to make enough money to have a better life outside Shadyside. Any curse seems to be a curse of low socio-economic background, with the teenagers victims of their circumstances. In some ways, the witch’s curse is symbolic of this: something that can follow you and that seems inescapable.

After the hanging incident, Ziggy goes to the nurse’s office for Nurse Lane to attend to a burn wound. Nurse Lane is not acting like her usual self, as she starts talking about her deceased daughter, Ruby. Later that day, Cindy and her boyfriend Tommy are attacked by Nurse Lane, who claims that Tommy will “die that night”. She is removed by the police, and rumours start to circulate that she was possessed by witch Sarah Fier, as was her daughter Ruby, who had slain seven friends before killing herself. We met Ruby in the 1994 instalment, when she attempted to kill Simon, and this was a great “Ooohhh!” moment. As the trilogy goes backwards in time, everything begins to make more sense.

Cindy and Tommy investigate after Nurse Lane’s attack; alongside frenemy Alice and her pothead boyfriend Arnie, they find Nurse Lane’s diary and a map to Fier’s house. Lane claims in her diary that Fier struck a deal with the devil.

Scarapbook of newspaper clipping and demonic symbol

When the group arrive at the house, they find it is isolated but discover “the witch’s mark” below the house, with the names of all previous Shadyside killers carved into the stone. Tommy’s name is also on it. He becomes possessed, killing Arnie in front of Cindy and Alice. Tommy then goes on a killing spree: killing other camp counsellors, Alice, a group of children, then Ziggy and Cindy. However, camp counsellor Nick Goode-y two shoes brings Ziggy back to life by performing CPR, true to his word that “a lot of people will die tonight, but not you [Ziggy]”.

Two teenagers embracing, perhaps frightened
A young Nick Goode with Ziggy Berman

We learn that Cindy was not the sister that survived, but that C. Berman is Ziggy. In the flashback, once Ziggy tells Nick about Sarah Fier possessing people, he shuns her. This was probably the most heart-wrenching scene, having someone Ziggy developed a close friendship with dismiss her beliefs, at the same time as losing her sister. The Shadyside curse becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fear Street: Part Two was probably my least favourite of the trilogy. It felt very slow compared to 1994, the deaths very samey, and I didn’t connect to the story as much. There were some extremely cringey clichés too: the irritating exaggeration of the mean girls trope with Sheila vs Ziggy; the stereotypical camp counsellors who smoke weed and have sex in the outhouse; and the hysteria of Nurse Lane that played into some old patriarchal stereotypes. Part Two was by no means terrible though and had some incredible moments; for one thing, the 1970s setting was fantastic and made me nostalgic for a time I never lived in. The deaths in 1978 seem more brutal than the murders of Katie and Simon in the first instalment, perhaps, because there are groups of children who are slaughtered. But the brutality of the deaths compared to the 1990s instalment does fit into the 1970s stereotypical slasher tradition, harking back to a pre-certification era when horror could afford to be more ruthless.

Fear Street Part 2: 1978 
2021 | 1h 50m  
Dir: Leigh Janiak 
Starring: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins
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Fear Street: Part Two – 1978

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