Do I write individual reviews for each movie? Or do I combine them all into one to save you all the aggravation of listening to me gush about them?
I decided to go with the first option because each movie feels that complex to me. I will note, there will absolutely be spoilers in this. It’s hard not to given how I don’t want to confuse you from part one to part two.
The “Fear Street” trilogy premeired on July 2, with “Fear Street Part 1: 1994.” The trilogy tells the story of a group of teenagers from Shadyside, Ohio and their battle with supernatural forces.
The trilogy was inspired by R.L. Stine’s series of the same name, which was a more mature version of Goosebumps, first released in the 1980s. (This bit of information is why I’m making the stretch to say these reviews can totally qualify as a throwback.)
Just like the films, R.L. Stine told stories about the rivalry between Shadyside and neighboring town Sunnyvale, however it mostly focused on a road aptly named Fear Street.
Among this is the lore of a witch named Sarah Fier that is allegedly cursing Shadyside and its residence. There’s a few other Easter eggs from the books that they take, but they can lead to spoilers so I’ll refrain from delving any further past the witch.
Sarah Fier is a very integral part of every part of the trilogy beyond just our main characters. The pilgrim allegedly cursed the town of Shadyside in 1666 before her hanging. Since her death, the town is plagued with murder sprees every few years.
“Fear Street Part 1: 1994” starts off with one of these killing sprees at the Shadyside Mall. High school senior Heather (Maya Hawke) is among those murdered by Ryan Torres (David W. Thompson) in a skull mask. The murders are put to a stop by Sheriff Nick Goode (Ashley Zuckerman) who shoots Ryan in the head after he stabs Heather to death.
Our main heroine in the trilogy, Deena Johnson (Kiana Madeira), is one of few people that doesn’t believe in the witch’s curse. Instead she’s still miserable and angsty over her break up with her girlfriend Sam (Olivia Scott Welsh) who moved to Sunnyvale following her parents’ divorce.
Meanwhile, Deena’s brother Josh (Benjamin Flores, Jr.) and her two best friends Simon (Fred Hechinger) and Kate (Julia Rewhald) do believe in the witch. Or, in Kate and Simon’s case, just enjoy feeding into the lore for fun.
They all soon come face to face with reality though following a memorial service before a football game in Sunnyvale.
Following the game, and a huge fight that broke out during a memorial service, the Shadyside bus is pursued by Sunnyvale football players and, unfortunately for Deena, Sam (I’ll note she doesn’t seem interested in a Fast and Furious type of revenge… or any for that matter. Frankly, she isn’t even over the other girl even if her terrible boyfriend is in the driver’s seat.)
Overcome with a sudden and unexplainable rage, Deena nearly dumps a cooler of Gatorade out the back of the bus on the vehicle. Unfortunately for her, even though Kate brings her back from the brink, she loses her grip on the cooler and it slams into the car, causing it to crash.
And here’s where the spookier stuff begins. After stumbling from the wrecked vehicle, Sam’s bloodied hand accidentally touches the bones of Sarah Fier causing her to see visions of the angry witch.
This leads Sam, Deena and co. into the worst few days of their lives, chased by Ryan Torres and other undead Shadyside killers that want to kill Sam for disturbing Sarah’s grave.
After multiple attempts at killing the killers (what an interesting phrase), which includes blowing them up in a high school bathroom, they come to a chilling conclusion. Sam has to die in order for them to be left alone.
Thanks to Josh and his research into the killers. They’re able to learn that Sam doesn’t necessarily have to stay dead though. Un 1978, during the Camp Nightwing massacre one girl — C. Berman — survived the attacks. She even told everyone she saw the witch.
So the group makes their last stand in a local grocery store planning to have Sam overdose and then bring her back.
Of course, with practically invincible killers on their trail, it’s easier said than done. However, Deena manages to get the job done… but not without losing Kate and Simon.
And their sacrifices almost seem in vain when Sam is late Fear Street possessed by the witch and attempts to murder Deena. Thankfully our girl is resourceful with a phone cord and also determined to get her girlfriend back.
Although the pacing isn’t always perfect in this film, I still enjoyed it overall. It takes a little bit from each part of the horror genre and melts it into one big pot. You’ve got classic gore and slasher mixed with the paranormal and more insidious nature of the genre as well as the constant question of “what the heck is up with Sarah Fier?”
Director Leigh Janiak clearly had a vision, one that was inspired by a variety of horror classics like “Scream,” “Friday the 13th” and more too. It, and its predecessors really feels like a love letter to classic, campy style horror. Something that isn’t used as much today.
And basing it in the 1990s really drives home that nostalgia factor too. Of note, they went all out in ensuring the sets reflected the times, even going as far as making sure the products in the grocery store scenes had designs from the time period.
And the actors obviously bring a lot to the characters too. I’ll have more time to gush over them in the next reviews but they seriously knock it out of the park with this.