Netflix’s horror trilogy goes back in time for a hot and humid American slasher

While it’s rare to call a slasher series ambitious, Project “Fear Street” does qualify: a trilogy of films released in consecutive weeks that come together and form a complete story. It’s not uncommon for horror movies to get the sequel treatment, but it’s rare for an entire franchise to be planned in advance – especially since every episode of this three-part adaptation of the novels of RL Stine goes back further in time. “Part 2: 1978”, the second chapter of the series, is less complete than “Part 1: 1994” but nonetheless convincingly sets the stage for “Part 3: 1666”.

Immediately picking up where its predecessor left off – that is, 1994 rather than 1978 – the middle entry deepens the Shadyside / Sunnyvale myth before stepping back in time and telling his part of the history. The rest of the film takes place at Camp Nightwing, where young people from prosperous Sunnyvale and supposedly cursed Shadyside smoke weed, have premarital sex, and become possessed by the responsible 17th-century one-handed witch. centuries of bloodshed in the area – you know, the normal stuff of summer camp.

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“Part 2” makes a number of explicit references to Stephen King and sometimes takes on a vaguely “that” feel, as if the very concept of evil doesn’t quite sleep in a moss-covered grave and periodically brings violence. . woe to those around him. While it never quite reaches the level of its most overt influences, the film is endowed with a certain gravity by feeling that all of this has happened before and will undoubtedly happen again.

Decades of slasher movies have conditioned us not to get attached to their characters, most of whom are throwaway fodder for the villain who chooses them, but “Fear Street” inspires more interest in its doomed teens than most of its dozen. ancestors of the genus.

The three films of “Fear Street” were co-written and directed by Leigh Janiak, who has the difficult task of balancing the teenage sensibility of the source material with the R-rated attributes of “Friday the 13th”, “Sleepaway Camp” and other slashers. Far from the brain-dead stoners punished for having sex, its characters are precocious and gender-savvy teens, whose intelligence has also made them tired of the world. In that sense, “Fear Street” is akin to MTV’s sloppy small-screen adaptation of “Scream”, two episodes of which were also directed by Janiak, with both series suggesting there is no reason for it. that slashers cannot adapt to a more 21st century world. state of mind – though both are ultimately more interested in hinting at the past than influencing the future.

Ultimately, there is a kind of distance between the viewer and the character that was not present in the first film, probably because “Part 1” revealed several of their destinies before “1978” introduced them. young me. We know that one of the Berman sisters will live, know that the witch’s thirst for blood will not be quenched that night, and know that the benevolent camp counselor will become a sheriff. “Part 2” can’t help but feel like the middle child, bridging the gap between his two siblings without having the chance to fend for himself.

But being repository isn’t the same as being smart, and much of the gore seems meant to prove the good faith of R-rated movies rather than actually serving the narrative. Close-ups of severed heads and scenes in which campers are caught having sex feel like they’re included not because the story calls them, but because the demons of the genre are waiting to such chills. “Fear Street” in general and the 1978 chapter in particular are at their best when they make their own way, which is a shame when they are too reluctant to walk it.

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