(spoiler-free movie review)
Fear Street Part One: 1994 is the first in a trilogy of films in the slasher horror genre, released on Netflix over the course of three weeks during the summer of 2021. The movies are based on the Fear Street book series written by R.L Stine.
The film tells the story of a group of teenagers living in the fictional town of Shadyside in the year 1994. During a traffic accident they inadvertently disturb the final resting place of a witch, who has been responsible for several murders happening in the mysterious town over the past 350 years. Deena (Kiana Madeira) starts seeing a skull mask wearing killer that was recently shot to death by the police and thinks it’s just a prank perpetrated by a resident of the nearby rival town Sunnyvale. Her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) however, who has studied Shadyside’s violent history, starts to piece together how the ghost-like killers are connected and part of a pattern. They get some help from their classmates Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger), who make money selling pills to their fellow school mates.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 is a slasher film in the true sense of the word, and it also pays homage to past classic horror movies in various ways. Films like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Poltergeist are mentioned in the dialogue, while the costumed skull masked killer resembles Ghostface from the Scream series of films, and you just can’t help but think of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th films as soon as the axe wielding maniac with a sack over his head appears on screen.
The film has a very distinctive look, which is both dark and rich in colors, and the acting is surprisingly good for a cast of young, and mostly inexperienced, actors. The editing is very fast paced, and the town’s backstory enfolds in a very clever way while the tension builds. While the movie is not overly scary, violent or gory, it does feature some gruesome kills that seem to come out of nowhere.
The accompanying soundtrack seems to serve only one purpose, which is to drive home the fact the movie is set in 1994, as a lot of recognizable tunes from that year appear throughout the movie.
When the movie opens it becomes clear two of the main characters have recently ended their lesbian relationship, but apart from that we don’t learn anything more about them or their actual lives. One of them moves on by dating a football player from her new Sunnyvale school, and this choice and the reason behind it is unfortunately not explored. It makes these kids at times seem more like types as opposed to characters, setting them up as simply potential victims rather than interesting people the viewer can care about, which seems to be the only downside to this movie.
Overall Fear Street Part One: 1994 is a solid horror slasher that brings nothing new to the table but is still very entertaining to watch. Since it’s the first part of a trilogy the film is open ended and the familiar ‘to be continued…’ pops up on screen followed by a few scenes from the next installment to whet your appetite.
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
- Media Format: Streaming (Netflix)
- Question: Which entry into the Fear Street trilogy did you enjoy the most? Cast your vote on the poll below!
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