Based on the Fear Street books by R.L. Stine ,Fear Street Part One: 1994, the first of the R-rated trilogy based on popular novels by R.L. Stine, starts off with an homage to Wes Craven’s 1996 horror classic: a phone rings and a young woman — played by Stranger Things star Maya Hawke — picks it up. A cat-and-mouse chase with a masked killer ensues.
Although not a direct adaptation of any one of them and adapted by first-time feature directors Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei, Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is the first of three interconnected films (Part 2: 1978 comes out next week; Part 3: 1666, the following week) that center on the dark and violent history of the town of Shadyside over the course of 350 years, a history which may stem from an ancient tale of a witch.
In 1994, a group of teenagers discovers that the terrifying events that have haunted their town for generations may all be connected — and that they may be the next targets. Based on R.L. Stine’s best selling horror series, the trilogy follows the nightmare through Shadyside’s sinister history.
Fear Street is a horrifying comedy
The first film opens with the murder of a mall store clerk (Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke) at the hands of one of her best friends, seemingly for no reason and yet also part of a much more gruesome and extensive mass murder in the mall.
Part One of Fear Street is a stressful experience, but probably not for the right reasons. The loud strings-based score, along with choppy cuts and gory deaths, serve up an excess of eye-candy to demand your attention (a shock head-based kill near the end really raises the bar).
It can be disorientating, the high-adrenaline slasher forgoing the padding of silence and suspense. It leans closer to the horror side of the comedy-horror equation, but horror fans will barely blink at the jump scares and the rest might be left wanting a little more from the unconventional teen heroes.
That being said, the film has several strikes against it. As you probably gathered from the title, the film is set in 1994, so naturally roughly 10,000 needle drops on the soundtrack drive home that point because you’re only allowed to listen to music from the year the movie is set. More importantly, nothing about Fear Street is scary, even though a couple of the kills are original and gruesome.
One of the viewer of the film in Twitter wrote:My hope is that both FREAKY and FEAR STREET: 1994 bring back that classic thing wide audiences tend to like. Scary, but fun, movies where stuff actually happens and people don’t just mumble quietly. That would be A-OK with me.
It can be disorientating, the high-adrenaline horror film forgoing the padding of silence and suspense. It leans closer to the horror side of the comedy-horror equation, but horror fans will barely blink at the jump scares and the rest might be left wanting a little more from the unconventional teen heroes.
Another one wrote 1994 is one of the most high energy, fast paced, purely entertaining horror movies we’ve gotten in a good long while. Very Stranger Things in that the nostalgia brings the charm but it’s the characters you really fall in love with. 90s slasher FUN. Loved it.
Despite having a gay couple at the center of its story, the movie seems utterly disinterested in them as actual people outside of this relationship. When we meet Sam, she’s moved on from the breakup with Deena and is dating a football player from her new Sunnyvale school. Is she straight, bi-, or simply conforming to what her parents expect of her?
We’ll never know the answer, because it’s never explored. The kids are types more than characters, simply potential victims rather than fully realized (or even partially realized) people, and it feels like a missed opportunity to really change the dynamic of horror films and give us characters to care about whether they live or die.
Watch the Fear Street Trilogy only on Netflix this July.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 – July 2
Fear Street Part Two: 1978 – July 9
Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – July 16
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.