“Fear Street Part One” review: Cursed cities and undead murderers form killer combo

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This story contains spoilers for “Fear Street Part One: 1994”.

“Fear Street Part One: 1994” premiered in the teen slasher horror genre on Netflix on July 2, quickly rising to the top of Netflix’s Global Top 10. The film is the first part of a trilogy; Netflix released the second film, “Fear Street Part Two: 1978,” on July 9, and the third, “Fear Street Part Three: 1666,” on July 16. Director Leigh Janiak said deadline that the decision to release the episodes of the trilogy in rapid succession makes the series “a hybrid of traditional television content and movies”.

The film is set in two fictional neighboring towns in Ohio: Shadyside, the murder capital of the United States, and Sunnyvale, one of the safest and wealthiest towns in the country. Urban legend among the residents of Shadyside is that in 1666 the witch Sarah Fier cursed the town before being executed for witchcraft.

The protagonist of the film, Shadysider Deena Johnson, does not believe in the curse. In contrast, her younger brother Josh spends all of his time online researching the town’s many murders and their connection to the witch. Other main characters include Deena’s friends Simon and Kate, and Deena’s ex-girlfriend Sam. Simon and Kate sell drugs to support their families, while Sam’s family has recently climbed socio-economic echelons and settled in Sunnyvale.

Following an altercation between teenagers from Shadyside and Sunnyvale, Sam is involved in a car accident and unknowingly disrupts the witch’s grave. Throughout the film, the group is haunted by the witch’s curse and the undead killers of the Shadyside massacres. Their attempt to escape the witch and cheat death is both exciting and terrifying.

I enjoyed the movie mainly because it uses the complexity of the characters to avoid the clichés of the teenage slasher horror genre. For example, the depiction in the film of Deena and Sam’s relationship raises issues of social class differences and prejudice – Deena is aware that her relationship with Sam breaks traditional cultural norms. The characters are also still trying to figure out who they are at different points in their journey of self-discovery. Like Nivea Serrao, who wrote for Syfy, noted, “While Deena is more proud of who she is, Sam isn’t open about it at all.”

Couples in teen slasher movies often fall under the same trope; they’ve been together for years, fight over a stupid thing, reconcile and then live or die. Unlike Deena and Sam, these cookie-cutter couples seem to have understood everything in their personal lives and aren’t exploring their identities. Meanwhile, Deena and Sam not only try to survive a horror movie, but also find their place in the world as young gay women.

Simon and Kate are also more nuanced than your standard horror movie characters. They’re known all over town as junkies and teenage dustbags. Instead of using the Hollywood trope of bad kids, however, the film expands on these two. We learn that Simon is his family’s primary supplier and that Kate is a gifted person who hopes to land a scholarship and leave Shadyside. This character development makes the two more sympathetic and sympathetic, and ultimately their eventual gruesome murders are even sadder.

Even so, the film is not perfect. One of my criticisms: Deena’s behavior at the end of the movie is weird. After Deena, Sam and Josh are the only ones to survive a bloody confrontation in a supermarket, Deena and Sam go out publicly as a couple. Even though Deena just saw her two best friends murdered, she seems totally satisfied. It’s strange to say the least, and audiences don’t see her cry at all. Maybe the writers wanted to wrap up Deena’s story with Sam in such a way that the viewer has some hope that they can now be together in peace – but it all feels a bit forced.

Deena isn’t the only character in the film to react strangely to a death. The film begins with a murder in a Shadyside mall after dark. The victim is a young bookstore worker and student at Shadyside High School. At school the next day, none of the students in Shadyside seemed to care. Some of them, including Simon, make jokes about the murder, and even do so at the victim’s wake that night. The nonchalance and jokes seem to have been meant to show how normalized killings are in Shadyside, but instead it just makes the characters feel like emotionless fools.

Another downside is the way the movie navigates the time frame. The film is set in the 90s. Unlike works such as “Stranger Things,” however, time period hardly plays a role. In “Stranger Things”, small cultural references such as New Coke and “Ghostbusters” are nostalgic and enrich the story. These types of details are virtually absent from “Fear Street”. Erik Cain from Forbes noted well: “The movie never really looks like the 90s.”

Regardless of the flaws in the film, the ending (which I don’t want to spoil) is shocking; a twist involving our surviving characters sets up the sequel very well. The second film takes place in a camp in 1978, where a massacre takes place. The lone survivor of this massacre has already interacted with our gang in Part 1, so it will be interesting to see how her story connects to that of 1994.

Overall, while the film has its flaws, it’s a nice watch, and the fact that the film is part of an interconnected storyline makes it all the more intriguing. Fans of hardcore horror films will likely find this film to be a snap, but for down-to-earth horror fans who are easily scared, this film will cause quite a stir.


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