Fear Street Part One: 1994
Highly anticipated horror trilogy Fear Street gets off to a rocky start with Part 1: 1994. Adapted from RL Stine’s book series of the same name, director Leigh Janiak’s second feature aims to revive the slasher genre for the Netflix generation in glossy, blood-spattered style. And while there’s no shortage of gory moments and teen screams here, the first chapter is brought down by a bloated script that constantly gets in the way of the schlocky fun horror fans came to see.
The trilogy takes place in the ominously named Shadyside. It’s a small Ohio town with a history coloured with violent massacres. In fact, it seems like a week can’t go past without some gruesome tragedy befalling the area. Local legends tell of a vengeful witch responsible for the killings, possessing victims to carry out her dirty work. Not many believe these tales to be true, but when a group of high school friends inadvertently stumble upon said witch’s grave, they discover just how true the stories are. Now pursued by a horde of the town’s most infamous murderers, they must find a way to survive before they become just another part of its bloody history.
A cursed town populated with dozens of serial killers is a fantastic premise for a modern slasher. There’s no shortage of dangers to keep the excitement fresh while simultaneously paying tribute to the genre’s history with a diverse group of killers who could have been taken straight from horror classics. An axe-wilding brute wearing a sack on their head is reminiscent of the mysterious killer in The Town That Dreaded Sunset, whereas the villain in the cheap Halloween costume who uses a knife as their weapon of choice gives off Ghostface vibes.
Fear Street Part One’s downfall is that it’s the first section in a trilogy – it’s so preoccupied with delivering exposition that it forgets to be its own film. Little is done to explore the characters (including the villains) beyond their introduction, and this makes it difficult to become invested in the corny high school drama running alongside the gore.
This is an enormously fun but incredibly clunky start. Now that the introductions are out the way, hopefully the remaining two instalments can dig in and have fun with their slasher roots.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 is released on Netflix on 2nd July 2021.
Watch the trailer for Fear Street Part One: 1994 here: