Released: 2nd July
Seen: 2nd July
In 1989 the first book in the Fear Street series was released. This book, dubbed The New Girl, began a franchise that would probably have defined writer R.L. Stine’s career were it not for the Goosebumps series that started 3 years later. In fact, if you say the name R.L. Stine most people who were around in the 90s will start humming the theme tune for the Goosebumps TV series, because that book franchise got adapted quickly into books and even a couple of films while Fear Street would only get a pilot for a series that never got made. It’s taken over 30 years for Fear Street to finally get an adaptation but oh god damn did it was it worth the wait!
Fear Street Part One: 1994 follows a group of teenagers in a little town called Shadyside. The town isn’t known for much, it has a decent-sized mall and a rivalry with another town’s football team and a seemingly never ending amount of serial killers who pop up every few years to devastate the town. Our main group of heroes find themselves being followed by a guy in a cape-wearing a skull mask and brandishing a particularly big knife that he seems to be good at stabbing people with, but as they run from him, they also run into a few other killers and learn there may be some mystical reason why these killers seem to keep popping up.
So my favourite horror film of all time is Scream and when I think of 90s horror I tend to think of Scream and the many films that copied it. So when I saw that this movie would be a 90s set slasher I was hoping it would be like one of those movies and goddamn it, I got my wish. This film fits right at home with that staple of modern slasher classics that I love, complete with the quippy characters who are interesting and complicated, a villain who is equal parts terrifying and goofy and enough of the red stuff to make even the biggest gorehound happy.
For a film that’s the first part of a planned trilogy (Due out over the next few weeks, so damn are they confident in this idea) it lays the groundwork for this little series perfectly while also being very much its own film. You don’t absolutely need to watch the other films in order to properly enjoy this one, even with the ending that is there to basically set up the next movie (Which looks like a Friday the 13th style slasher, so I’m excited) this film still manages to have a fun and effective self-contained story.
Fear Street Part One does so much right that it fills me with delight. There are so many good jokes thrown in among the horror and gore that if you’re not holding back a scream, you’re probably holding back a chuckle. Each character is delightful and fun, from the awkward but charming Simon (Fred Hechinger) to the tech-savvy horror nut Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) to our lead couple Samantha (Olivia Welch) and Deana (Kiana Madeira). That’s right, a 90s style slasher with a lesbian couple as the leads… because for once, things are going the right way.
As a fan of practical effects in the slasher genre, this film either has the best team of practical effects artists, or a CGI team so good I didn’t notice if it was digital. So many cool shocking slasher-style deaths, including one of my new favourites involving an electric bread slicer, it’s the kind of film that knows what kind of audience will want to see this and delivers on a silver platter exactly what they want.
Even the soundtrack is perfect, blending hit songs of the era perfectly in ways that just fit the mood of every scene. The score is almost designed to just worm its way into your ear and get you on edge, which shouldn’t be a shock since Marco Beltrami wrote the score AKA the guy who did the score for all 4 Scream movies (Told you this film was lifting from a great source). It’s all so good and all builds to a fun and powerful finale that has me wishing I could move time forward a week to see the next movie already.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 is a promising starting chapter for this trilogy and already is one of my favourite horror films of the year. A loving throwback to 90s slashers that doesn’t hold back for even a second, it’s a fun thrilling ride that I didn’t want to end. I am so excited to see where this trilogy goes… hell, this film is set up in such a way that we could have a dozen or more of these films and if they’re all as good as this one, I will gleefully devour every last one of them!