While horror has been having a bit of a moment in recent years thanks to hits like Get Out, A Quiet Place, and The Conjuring films, the slasher subgenre hasn’t been particularly well-represented since 1996’s Scream. Netflix is out to change that with their 3 part R.L. Stine adaptation Fear Street. It’s an interesting idea, to release a trilogy of movies over the course over 3 weeks, effectively bankrolling 2 sequels to a movie before even knowing if anyone will actually like it, so has it payed off?
In this first installment, we head all the way back to 1994, where we meet Deena (Kiana Madeira), her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), and friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger). On the night of the annual game between their town of Shadyside and the neighboring team from wealthy Sunnyvale, the rivalry between the 2 explodes during a vigil for a deceased student, leading to a prank going wrong and the car carrying Deena’s ex Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) crashing into a tree. Of course, the site of the accident happens to be where local legend the Fier Witch is buried, leading to Sam having a vision of her, and then someone stalking and harassing the friends. Is it one of the students from Sunnyvale, looking for retaliation, or is the legend real?
Much like the aforementioned Scream, this is a movie that is very aware of the horror movies that came out before, though it’s never as in-your-face meta about the fact as Scream was, aside from perhaps the many visual references to that film in the opening sequence. The cast does a great job, even if the characters can occasionally come off as somewhat annoying, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot more from these young actors in the future. The story is very effective at establishing the central mystery that is intended to carry us through the following 2 films, when we will learn more about the history of Shadyside that led us to the events of this installment, but as a result of all the exposition dumping required to flesh out the movie’s world, things can drag a little at times. There is also an unfortunate lack of moments that most people will find scary, though that is compensated for somewhat by the effectively creepy finale, which uses a closed-down supermarket to great effect, and features the movie’s sole moment of shocking violence (and it is quite shocking). I don’t know if this would have been a major hit had it been released to theaters, but it’s a decent watch for anyone looking for a fun little horror flick, and it’s entertaining enough that viewers will likely be back for the next one. ★★★
Available on Netflix with a subscription.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, drug content, language, and some sexual content.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor