As I’ve previously written, I grew up on R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series of books. I was obsessed with them and devoured virtually every book that came out. The twists, the turns, the horror, the common situations, all appealed to me. I had the horror bug, for whatever reason, early on. I wish I still had the books. So, when Netflix announced a three-week rollout of Fear Street films, starting with Fear Street Part One: 1994, I was stoked! I even re-started my Netflix subscription so I could watch them. Also, it’s just neat to see Netflix experiment with doing a weekly release of something!
This won’t sound like a compliment, but it 100 percent is: Part One is the best kind of B-level horror movie. So much fun. Such a homage to past horror flicks. And a damn good time. I was particularly surprised with how brutal and gory it was!
So, the film takes place in Shadyside, Ohio, which throughout the years has had a torrent of violent crimes occur, where people inexplicably “go mad” and slaughter numerous people. Well, Josh (played by Benjamin Flores, Jr.) is the sort of prototypical early internet forum geek who has uncovered what he thinks (and is right) the reason is: A witch, who has essentially cursed the town by making these people killers. I was particularly jazzed that the witch’s name is Sarah Fier. Get it! Fier!
The film opens with a Scream-like homage, where Heather Watkins (Maya Hawke) gets killed in a bookstore at a mall by her friend Ryan (played by David Thompson), who is in a Skull Mask. The sequence, particularly the slow-motion moment where Skull Mask catches up with Heather is almost shot-for-shot a homage to Scream and it’s wonderful. It’s too bad Heather was killed off because even in those few minutes, Maya was great as Heather and would have been a great “final girl” lead.
Nonetheless, from there, the film follows Deena Johnson (played by Kiana Madeira), her estranged love interest, Sam (played by Olivia Welch), her brother, Josh, and her friends Kate (played by Julia Rehwald) and Simon (played by Fred Hechinger), high school kids that are warring with the kids from the neighboring town of Sunnyvale. Get it?! Sunnyvale?! Rich, happy! No killings there.
The warring goes too far and Sam ends up “seeing” the witch, which means that all of the killers from the past are now after Sam until she’s dead. That’s an awesome horror premise. Forget one killer. Bring them all on! I particularly liked the Jason homage killer, who killed a bunch of people at a camp and almost looks like early Jason with the bag over his head and the ax, I believe. He also runs fast, like early Jason!
Also, because the film takes place in 1994, we get a lot of awesome music, like “Creep,” by Radio, “Sour Times,” by Portishead, “The Day I Tried to Live,” by Soundgarden and others.
Anyhow, it turns out that you can’t kill these creations! The gang pulls off a Scooby-Doo-like trap where they lure the killers to one spot to try to capture them, although in this case, to kill them, and they regenerate!
That’s when they learn that someone else had previously survived “seeing” the witch by dying and coming back to life; ergo, the gang thinks, if we can kill Sam and bring her back, this will all end.
Along the way, Simon and Kate die, which shocked me! I didn’t expect anyone from the gang to actually die! Then they shocked me again by making me think they had gotten rid of the witch and survived and instead, Sam turns bad and tries to kill Deena. Deena is able to survive and somehow wrap Sam up in a phone cord to contain her. She’s hoping to sort of “exorcize” Sam of the witch.
That leads us into Part Two: 1978, which is about the camp massacres.
If I had one minor criticism of the movie it’s that I feel like they could have shaved off a good 15 minutes or so from the plot and been better for it. It did feel a tad long.
Overall, again, I thought this was just a fun time, if you’re a horror fan. If you’re not a horror fan, it’s obviously not for you. But horror fans will love the homages, the cheesiness, the bumbling cops who don’t believe the kids, the gory kills, the surprises and more. I can’t wait to watch Part Two probably later today!