It’s really no secret that Netflix isn’t the best when it comes to advertising their content. From the overly long trailers to their seemingly lack of confidence in the promotion of their titles, it’s generally a mess; but then there’s the upcoming horror trilogy Fear Street. For what feels like the first time in a very long time – if not ever – the advertising of one of their Originals has not given everything away and is actually sort of relying on “the little you know going in, the better.” On top of that, this is being described by Netflix as “The Event of the Summer” and I have not seen them be this openly confident in their content in a hot minute.
Based on the very popular book series from horror legend R.L. Stine, Fear Street will be a trio of films all coming out one week apart from each other and all being tied in together in some way, shape or form. I’ve been lucky enough to catch an early screening of the first of the trilogy being titled, Fear Street: Part One – 1994, and while I can’t yet consider this to have lived up to its title of “The Event of the Summer,” it’s an incredibly strong start from the series.
The first of the trilogy follows a group of teenagers that reside in the town of Shadyside, who have seemingly disrupted an ancient witch previously responsible for the cause of many murders in their town and disasters over the last century. With no one to believe them and victims bodies piling up, it’s up to them to stop the cycle before it takes over. The film itself is heavily inspired by iconic slashers such as Scream and Halloween but unlike many of the modern homages to these films, this one has something new to offer.
Starting off with the characters, I personally enjoyed the main squad of teenagers we got to follow. Leading the bunch is Deena (Kiana Madeira), an angsty, newly heart broken and very outspoken teenage girl. As far as final girls go, she definitely stands out in a genre that has heavily relied on the image of their lead women being put together, sometimes quiet and sweet, and often a virgin or at least a character who doesn’t talk about sex and isn’t vulgar. Deena is badass, angry, fun and carries a vulnerable soft side to her that she likes to hold back. It’s a refreshing addition to women in horror and a performance from actress Kiana Madeira (Trinkets) that is an absolute blast to watch.
As for the supporting cast, they’re all great. In particular Benjamin Flores Jr. (Rim of the World) and Olivia Scott Welch (Panic) as Deena’s brother Josh and her friend Sam. Both characters play huge roles in our lead’s development throughout the film and I found myself rooting for not only them, but also their friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger) to get out of this mess alive. The fact that I was watching a slasher film and genuinely hoping for no more death within the friend group speaks volume to these characters and the actors/actresses who play them. Every single one of these characters were messy as all hell and while they’re written to make mistakes, they were also smart in a lot of ways; I adored them all. Not to mention there’s also some great LGBTQ+ representation in this film, I won’t say anymore for spoiler purposes but it’s always refreshing to see queer stories being told within mainstream horror.
While great characterization was a bonus, the best part about this film was how mean and gory it was. There’s some great kills in this film, one in particular had me hollering at the screen due to how messed up and fun it was; and the villains in this film are aggressive, intense and do not hold back at all. Usually when it comes to these horror young adult adaptations, we’re given watered down versions of them for the younger audiences as well; well not this time around. They truly went for the hard R rating and it worked so well in its favour. With the next addition of the trilogy taking place at a summer camp and paying some clear homage to films like Friday the 13th, I am so excited. Slashers that take place at summer camps are top tier in my eyes and with Part One giving us a glimpse into the killer for it’s sequel, I can safely say it’s going to be fantastic, gory and brutal as hell.
This was all-around a smart, fun and eccentric slasher from Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon) who directed the whole trilogy. It’s gorgeously shot which isn’t a common praise within the subgenre, and while the writing can be cheesy at times with lots of meta commentary, it’s a blast. Even though I have yet to see Part Two – 1978 or Part Three – 1666, I can officially say I am a huge Leigh Janiak fan. I hope people admire this filmmaker as much as I do after watching this because she is cementing herself as a new staple within the genre, and I’m so here for the praise she hopefully gets and deserves.
Fear Street: Part One – 1994 comes out July 2nd and will be followed up by the other two films on July 9th and July 16th. There’s lots to enjoy here, especially for horror fans, so do not miss these when they come out.