Last week, viewers were introduced to a mysterious teen slasher movie gem with Fear Street: 1978. In the center of these cities terrifying tragedy lays a history which lures the present, the future and the past as the movie flashes back, yet the past isn't really the future because it's never been the same. The first twenty minutes or so are extremely fast-moving, but it's not exactly a thrilling film; instead, it's more disorienting. For the most part, Fear Street: 1978 takes place in a small New Mexico town which has recently experienced a series of brutal murders committed by an unidentified serial killer.
This movie starts after the events of the first Fear Street (also known as "The Strangers" and "The Vanishing"), and chronicles the progress of the investigation done by the authorities. However, unlike its predecessor, Fear Street: 1978 doesn't make use of a single setting. Instead, it drifts from one locale (a high school for girls in 1866) to another, always using a different locale (a train station in Colorado and a front porch in Texas) to tell the story of what happens next. There is also plenty of time travel involved (earlier chapters take place in the present day, while later chapters take place in the past). Although it can be considered a "trilogy," the movie isn't really centered on a single character; instead, each chapter follows the lead character(s) in the respective storyline.
Despite the length and the many locations, Fear Street: 1978 stands out as a relatively weak installment in its series. In terms of plot, the movie is mediocre at best. Although some of the stories elements do build up, the actual plot construction often goes unchallenged. This doesn't mean that the movie isn't entertaining-if anything, the highly charged subject matter and suspenseful atmosphere of the story make the film more effective than its contemporaries.
However, when it comes to the acting, the movie fails to live up to the expectations. Most of the main characters are underdeveloped or poorly portrayed. The supporting cast doesn't do much better, and in some scenes, the film just feels like an extension of its predecessor. The villain, though an interesting presence in the previous Fear Street installments, is underdeveloped, and doesn't bring any appreciable threat to the main characters' goals or the overall concept of the series.
Perhaps, the biggest disappointment with Fear Street: 1978 lies in the actual plot of the film. The movie follows two teenage lovers, Rachel (Beverly D'Angelo), and Alex (Aaron Ruell), as they embark on a dangerous quest in order to kill a werewolf. At the beginning, their motives seem pure, and they are eager to kill the werewolf because it attacks their friends during the night. Their moment of triumph is cut short when the two are attacked by two vampires and are left for dead. The viewer knows right then that this particular plan is not going to work, and at the end of the movie, they watch helplessly as Alex and Rachel die while the werewolf continues to roam free in the night.
It may be understandable why this movie isn't more popular. Although the concept and story are interesting, the acting is below par. In Fear Street: 1978, a number of factors contribute to the lack of appeal, but perhaps the most important is the poor acting. All three Fear Street movies feature extremely amateurish acting, with a particularly atrocious performance from Rachelle unlike anything she's shown in any prior role. This leads to the question whether anyone who saw this movie was actually watching a quality movie...