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Review: 'Fear Street Trilogy - Part 1: 1994' a Fun Throwback to the Slasher Films of Yesteryear

by Padraic Maroney
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jun 30, 2021
'Fear Street'
'Fear Street'  (Source:Netflix)

Netflix has set out for an ambitious endeavor, releasing a trilogy of films based on the popular "Fear Street" series one week apart. Each of the films are set in different time periods and cohesively tell one entire story arc. The first film is aptly titled "Fear Street Part One: 1994."

Using "Scream" as its template — the comparisons are made even more valid with composer Marco Beltrami tasked with creating the score for both films — "Fear Street" is able to successfully blend tropes from the '90s slasher films with the supernatural elements that many of the books contained. Much like the "Goosebumps" adaptation, another cherished R.L. Stine literary series, the filmmakers aren't taking a plot from any specific novel and translating it to the screen. Instead, they are taking the overall feel and lore behind the series to use as the basis for the movies. Although, they do get bonus points for using many of the classic book covers in the movie.

That plot, which will play out over the course of these initial three films, centers on Sarah Fier, who was killed in the 1600s for being a witch. Before dying she cursed the town of Shadyside, and every decade or so a strange, unexplained killing sprees wreak havoc on the town. It happens so often that the townsfolk don't even seem to remember them all. The witch's curse is re-awakened by a group of high schoolers — because it's always dumb teenagers — after getting into a car accident. Soon, it becomes a race against time to end the curse before it ends all of them.

Stine's books were relatively tame when they were released in the late '80s through the '90s. Characters would occasionally die, but there was nothing like the amount of gore on display here. Weirdly, the gore doesn't feel out of place; it's just a little bit of a shock to the system, because it's been a while since we have seen a mainstream horror film relish in its own macabre nature. The blood of one of the characters being sprayed around a high school is literally a major plot point in the third act. Most recent horror films have been too focused on the killer's brutality, and miss how much fun these movies should be.

The issue that the "1994" installment has is that, similar to the "Goosebumps" film, it unleashes multiple killers on the teenagers when it's unnecessary. The Skull Mask killer is a pretty creepy costume in its own right, and its only gets watered down by having to share the screen with others that aren't operating at the same level.

"Fear Street Part One: 1994" uses the tropes and character archetypes that everyone is familiar with to their advantage. Using those expectations, the film is able to offer a few pivots and also jump into the action much quicker. Much of the film also rests on the shoulders of the mostly unknown cast, a job that they carry effortlessly. The result is a 100-minute rollercoaster ride that has enough gore to satisfy the adults in the audience, but isn't too scary for the teenagers. As a cherry on top, it's also queerer than any of its brethren from the decade it portrays.

"Fear Street Part One: 1994" is streaming on Netflix beginning July 2.

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