After a series of brutal slayings, a teen and her friends take on an evil force that’s plagued their notorious town for centuries. Welcome to Shadyside.
Runtime: 1hr 47m
Director: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Maya Hawke, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jordana Spiro, Jordyn DiNatale
Information Page: https://www.newonnetflix.info/info/81325689
When I first heard about the Fear Street Trilogy of movies it certainly piqued my interest. I do enjoy a good horror film and the idea of having the full trilogy released over just 15 days (three consecutive Fridays) was a novel touch – no waiting around for years to see how things pan out! The films are based on famed teen horror writer R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series of books – of which there have been a whopping 163 (yes, one hundred and sixty three). The films do not follow one particular story from the series but, instead, aim to reinvent the teen slasher genre and the overall spirit of the books – albeit potentially a little more graphic given their 18 rating in the UK.
The film begins in a darkened shopping mall just after closing as shopkeepers and staff are closing up for the night. Two teens from different shops are chatting and agree to meet up afterwards but suddenly dark figure in a skeleton mask and cloak is seen by a shop. In a typical teen-slasher style the girl assumes it’s the boy just joking around. But things get serious and we get straight into the action and the murders begin. Straight away there are definite “Scream” vibes but that just feels like a lazy comparison – it is certainly not a copy or clone of the classic 90s slasher.
Roll on the following day and we meet the main kids of the film as well as learn about the history of Shadyside, Ohio. It is known as the murder capital of the country – the polar opposite of neighbouring town Sunnyvale. “Fear Street Part 1: 1994” is, unsurprisingly, set in 1994 where The Internet is a relatively new thing and it’s amusing to see that played out with the ‘nerd’ using IRC to chat to someone online about what happened at the mall. As it turns out, many Shadyside residents believe that the town’s bad luck when it comes to murder sprees is down to the fact that Sarah Fier placed a curse on the town before being hanged for witchcraft way back in 1666 (Part 3 of the series is set in 1666 so I am guessing we will see more of this backstory over the next couple of films).
Deena and Josh are brother and sister – the latter being the internet nerd fully engrossed in the Fier witch story. Deena, on the other hand, doesn’t believe any of it and has problems of her own to deal with – struggling with the breakup of her and her ex, Sam who moved to neighbouring Sunnyvale. Shortly after a vigil for the victims of the mall massacre, things start to take a strange turn for the teens as the skeleton-masked killer starts to hunt them down along with a few other mysterious attackers. Thankfully Josh has been logging the history of murders in Shadyside and with his knowledge they devise a plan to save themselves, as well as the town, from the current murder spree.
While the story outlined above may come across as generic slasher, it’s actually good fun and a nice refreshing take on the genre. I have no knowledge of the book series it is based on, but have seen many slashers over the years. I mentioned Scream earlier on in my review and said that it felt like a lazy comparison. It is, however, still valid in the sense that Scream really shook up the genre at the time and I honestly feel that Fear Street does that too. It’s a slasher, with a supernatural element and some interesting character development and stories to go with it. There’s enough mystery about Shadyside without it being too overwhelming and spoiling the overall story.
The cast do a great job in the film and the look and feel just works. It’s dark, it’s neon, and visually appealing. My only criticism is not of the film or story itself but of the soundtrack. While it has some great 90s tunes, it feels a little forced with, if I counted correctly, short snippets of about 10 different songs in the first 20 minutes of the film. So you don’t really get to hear the songs, and they don’t really add anything – it’s as though someone just wanted to show how cool they were by being able to name lots of 90s music…
Overall I really enjoyed “Fear Street Part 1: 1994” – it tells an interesting story while still having the feel of a classic slasher and some surprising death scenes. It will be very interesting, as well, to see how the story plays out over the next two films – especially when you consider that Part 2 is set 16 years before the events we just saw.
“Fear Street Part 2: 1978” will arrive on Netflix globally on July 9th and you can see the trailer here: https://news.newonnetflix.info/news/full-trailer-released-for-fear-street-part-2-1978-netflix-horror-trilogy/
We’ll see you next week for our review of Part 2!
Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!