Over the last few years, Netflix hasn’t put much effort into its horror selection. By and large, horror fans have found movies they’ve seen or generic, uninspiring selections. So it was something of a surprise when the streaming giant announced it was release a trilogy of horror movies in back-to-back-to-back weeks. Based on RL Stine’s (Goosebumps) teen horror series from the 1990s, the Fear Street trilogy are teen slasher flicks in the vein of Wes Craven’s Scream series. Unlike his Goosebumps series, Stine’s Fear Street novels had a bit more teeth as they were intended for teens. Initial critical response to the first installment, Fear Street Part 1 1994, has been overwhelmingly positive.
For longer than most residents care to remember, tragedy has defined Shadyville, Ohio. Every so often a series of bizarre murders plague the town, earning it the moniker of ‘Murder Capital of the United States’. When a classmate and friend inexplicably murders a high school book store employee without warning, Shadyville residents fear the murders are starting again. As for the high school students, they whisper about a centuries old curse cast by a witch.
Fear Street Part 1 1994 Embodies Scream Without Aping It
From its opening scene, Fear Street Part One 1994 proves it has the chops for slasher fans. Though its opening scene clearly references Scream, the RL Stine-based slasher quickly distinguishes itself. Aside from tone and an early homage, director Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon) carves out her own direction. Not surprisingly, Janiak also directed a couple of episodes from the Scream television series. Like that show, Fear Street Part One 1994 has a lot more slick graphic violence than Craven’s 1996 classic. That is, Janiak’s violent deaths share more DNA with ‘Golden Era’ slashers than the 90’s slasher-lite movies. But Janiak also exhibits the same flair for staging the same exciting ‘stalk and chase’ moments found in Craven’s original Scream trilogy.
…the movie’s mythology around legendary local with Sarah Fier allows this slasher to avoid lazy tropes.
Where Fear Street Part One 1994 distinguishes itself is its supernatural elements. Kyle Killen and Phil Graziadei adapted Stine’s novels and do a good job integrating slasher elements with the source material’s supernatural pieces. In fact, the movie’s mythology around legendary local witch Sarah Fier allows this slasher to avoid lazy tropes. There’s a few fun surprises and twists along the way that negate the unnecessarily long 97-minute runtime. And the witchcraft element – and a rivalry with the much safer Sunnyvale – promise more fun for the upcoming prequels. That is, Fear Street Part One 1994 works as a standalone movie while building the foundations for additional movies.
Fear Street 1994 Part 1 Remembers to Include Characters Worth Liking
Whereas ‘Golden Era’ slasher movies cast mostly unknowns, the 90’s slasher-lite era stacks its movies with up-and-coming young stars. Like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Urban Legend, Fear Street Part 1 1994 boasts an impressive young cast. Both Kiana Madeira (The Flash) and Olivia Scott Welch (Panic) are talent performers who share a lot a of onscreen chemistry. It’s their relationship that adds a surprising emotional core to the movie. As school nerd and local conspiracy-theorist, Benjamin Flores Jr is an instantly likable character who also helps advance the plot with bits of exposition. Even the movie’s supporting characters – played by Julia Rehwald and Fred Hechinger – earn some audience love.
From the Skull Mask Killer to a masked axe-wielding camp killer, there’s certain enough slasher villains to maintain the action and gore.
As for the slasher’s villains, Fear Street Part 1 1994 doesn’t fully introduce it main villain, witch Sarah Fier. After all, you need to save something for that final prequel installment. Instead, the slasher throws out several past resurrected villains. From the Skull Mask to a masked axe-wielding camp killer, there’s certainly enough slasher villain to maintain the action and gore. But Fear Street Part 1 1994 does suffer somewhat from lacking a visible and discernible ‘big bad’ killer. It’s a minor quibble with a fun movie. Yet there’s still a sense that what we’re given are just placeholders for what’s to come.
Fear Street Part 1 1994 A Wildly Fun Kickoff to the Trilogy
Well, it’s good news for Netflix. After investing in all three Fear Street movies, Fear Street Part One 1994 accomplishes two things, First and foremost, it’s a wildly fun slasher movie that invites audiences to turn off their brain and bask in the nostalgia. Janiak indulges in the Scream-inspired mayhem with a bit of edge. Even at longer-than-expected runtime, Fear Street Part One 1994 breezes along with enough surprises to keep you engaged. Second, Janiak’s slasher leaves you wanting more. And with two prequels coming in the next two weeks, that’s a good thing.