Netflix’s bold and experimental Fear Street trilogy came to a conclusion this week with Part 3: 1666 telling the final chapter of Shadyside’s blood-soaked history. To release a trilogy of films one week after another was a very inventive move from the streaming giant, as they continuously look to advance and innovate their huge portfolio. Inspired by R.L Stine’s book series, the Fear Street trilogy centers around teenagers in 1994 who come to the realization that the horrific events that have plagued their town for centuries might have been caused by something far more sinister than expected.
Adaptations of book series into feature films have been inconsistent throughout the years, but Director Leigh Janiak and the production team do a great job in re-imagining R.L Stine’s popular collection – albeit for a different target audience. The trilogy doesn’t hold back with its use of gore, violence, and horror, which will please the most hardened of horror enthusiasts. I was genuinely surprised at the level of violence in certain moments throughout the films, with one scene in 1978 hitting really disturbing levels. So anyone expecting a child-like interpretation of the source material need not worry – the R rating is well deserved.
The narrative is creative and intriguing, which allows the production to try different things. Piecing together so many genres was a delight to see – each film felt very distinct, but still served its purpose in bringing together the overarching story. Part 1:1994 stars newcomers Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, and Benjamin Flores Jr and dives into the classic slasher films of that era. Scream serves as a clear inspiration for the film, with the main killer striking a very similar resemblance to the iconic Ghostface. Janiak does a great job in recreating the era, with stylish cinematography, gruesome kills, and a bad-ass soundtrack. Slasher films seem to have fallen out of favor over the last decade, but this proves there is still a place for them in today’s landscape.
Part 2:1978 takes us back to summer camp, where workers and campers are mercilessly hunted down by an ax-wielding maniac– heard this story before? Inspiration from Friday the 13th is clear, but Camp Crystal Lake is replaced by a nightmare at Shadyside’s very own Camp Nightwing. Part 2 stars Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, and Stranger Things’ Sadie Sinks, who prove to be great additions to the franchise. Your usual genre cliches are here, but they add to the nostalgia. The film ups the intensity and goes darker than Part 1, ramping up on the violence and carnage– the gore is plentiful and the body count is higher. Our trip to 1978 does a great job in adding to the trilogy’s mythology and shows that summer camp has never been scarier. Part 3: 1666 goes all the way back to the origins of Shadyside– gone are the slasher themes, replaced by a more unnerving, periodic, supernatural horror. The trilogy’s finale interweaves between the past and the present, as the story finally unravels to a satisfying and scary conclusion.
Building and expanding cinematic universes are the order of the day right now, and Fear Street sets up many possibilities, should they decide to go further. There are a plethora of maniacal villains here, many of whom are inspired by horror icons of the past. But Fear Street crafts them in a way that feels unique to their world and offers so many spin-off opportunities. The story is driven forward by a likable bunch of leads, portrayed by many newcomers to the scene. Time is taken to flesh these characters out, which enables the audience to connect with them.
Fear Street takes us on a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the time of slashers past. The trilogy finds ways to add new life to old material, making use of past inspiration but forging its own path. Strong world-building, clever scares, intense gore, and easter-eggs galore will appease both hardcore fans and newcomers alike. The concept is original and allows for a lot of fresh film-making. Seeing the macabre events play out through different time periods offers a rich visual flavor, while the supernatural elements add genuine horror. The prospect of more to come from this world seems more like a blessing than a curse at this point.
My rating: 4 stars out of 5
The Fear Street Trilogy is now available to stream on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.
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