The Fear Street Trilogy
Fear Street: Part One – 1994, Fear Street: Part Two – 1978, & Fear Street: Part Three – 1666 (2021) 3-in-1 review
Based on the book series by R.L. Stine, Fear Street is a three-part Netflix series following the town of Shadyside, a small town that has seen a series of violent killing sprees over the past 300 years. The first film, 1994, follows a group of friends who stumble upon an ancient evil responsible for the killings Now they must find a way to escape it before it is too late… The second in the series, 1978, follows one of the past killings, the massacre at Camp Nightwing. Similarly, the third film jumps even further back to 1666 to look at the first of these events and how they begun, as well as how they can be stopped… The Netflix original films were released once per weekend, with the third film landing on the streaming service last weekend. All three films also received a positive welcome from critics.
While I think these films could have been better overall, I liked the Fear Street movies! I like the connecting stories, the back to back to back release dates (which could only really happen on streaming), and the consistent direction across the three films. Plus, while I’ve not read the books, each film in this series pays homage to a horror classic! That’s kinda fun. So maybe if you don’t like horror in any capacity, you might not care about these films. But if you love classic horror or popcorn horror, Fear Street will satisfy both.
Before I get into the things that worked and didn’t work in all three, I want to praise a few elements that are present throughout the trilogy. First, Leigh Janiak’s direction. While I don’t love every little thing about the performances, overall, I can’t complain. The cast does a solid job (especially in 1666) bringing the intense story to life without it ever feeling like more than they can handle. Horror typically does a very good job in with this realistic and grounded dynamic of course, but the fact that Fear Street manages to pull it off while paying homage to those films in a relatable, Stranger Things (2016-) style.
The writing is solid too. Phil Graziadei, who also worked with Janiak on the 2014 horror film Honeymoon (which is pretty good if you haven’t seen it) worked on all three Fear Street films, which definitely helps a consistent tone across the films; especially since he’s the only writer who worked on all three. (Meaning other writers worked on the other films, but not more than two.) Also the scores from Marco Beltrami, Marcus Trumpp, Brandon Roberts, and Anna Drubich were really good! Beltrami worked on all three, and it shows. He brings a wonderfully intense vibe throughout, while Marcus Trumpp swoops in and delivers a surprisingly compelling and emotional theme. Plus I’m assuming Anna Drubich did the string work for 1666, and she killed it! Sold work all around.
Fear Street: Part One – 1994:
When looking at the homages, 1994 is most obviously Scream (1996). And as a 90s throwback, it’s a solid movie. The characters are fairly interesting, the stakes are personal and small-scale, and the story is- odd, but that works for a film that starts the trilogy by doing things a little different before reverting to normal. What really works against this one in particular is the pacing. We get a ‘killer’ opening followed by a strong first act. But once we get to the obligatory downtime, 1994 loses all of its momentum. While horror movies have to be horror movies, this might be easily the most unbelievable ‘let’s stop to make out under an intense time pressure’ that I’ve ever seen. (In the genre anyway…) That said, the third act does land on a high note with a few surprises, making Part One a pretty decent watch. Overall, 6/10
Fear Street: Part Two – 1978:
Now we go from Scream to Friday the 13th, complete with a masked killer at a summer camp. While I expected this to be a weaker entry thanks to what appeared to be a more conventional story, this was by far the best of the three! Part Two starts with a band and rarely lets up, only allowing just enough time to like the characters who- honestly are more likable than the first film! The film focuses mostly on the relationship between two sisters, which was a more compelling dynamic than a girl and her ex from the first film. However it’s not all axe murders and screaming kids, as we dive into the lore much more than I expected. This helped elevate an homage (which is probably better than the film its paying homage to) to a nearly perfect second installment, following up the story set up by the first film very well. The only thing that doesn’t work as well is, somehow in the best of the three, the score, which is the least interesting of the trilogy. 7/10.
Fear Street: Part Three – 1666:
Part Three is why I didn’t review this sooner. I’m honestly torn. If Part One is Scream and Part Two is Friday the 13th, Part Three is definitely The Witch (2016). And I adore the 1666 setting. The film runs with that, creating some genuine terror that, while not as intense as ‘Great Value Jason’ from the second film, is significantly more intense and personal than a guy with a mask and a knife from the first. Of course this film looks the best, features the best score, and probably the best direction, complete with the best performances by a long shot. Plus the storytelling really works! I don’t want to give anything away, but I really dig where they took the plot across all three movies.
That said, there’s one large creative choice that I’m not sure works. I get the intent, and the connection it creates for the audience is definitely a plus. But it also makes me ask creative choices and some of the intent in the themes. There’s a relationship in the third one that resembles one in the first, but it is like that because of the casting? Or because it fits the story. The film just had me wondering what it would be like if they did this one thing differently, and I wish I could have seen that instead. That said, when we wrap up the trilogy, we end on a pretty solid note. I don’t know, I’m at a 6.5. While I think this film wraps up the trilogy very well, 1666 is really only worth a 6/10. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s almost really good!
In the end though, the trilogy itself deserves a 7/10. The way the parts work together to defy conventional horror tropes while paying homage to them is exactly what I wanted from these movies. Some of the performances aren’t always on par, and a few pacing and story choices here and there don’t work as well as they should. But in the end, Part Two helps carry these films, showing the intent and potential that they reach more than they miss. I liked these movies quite a bit, and despite only giving them a 6, 7, and 6, I would watch them again. (Like NEXT October.)
So The Fear Street Trilogy? Did you watch it? What did you think? And which part was your favorite? Be sure to leave a like or a comment and let us know! And if you liked how we did this review and you want to read more like it, let us know in the comments what we should talk about next! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince