Let me preface this review by stating the first entry in the Fear Street trilogy was not what I was expecting. Not having read the books, I went into Fear Street Part One: 1994 expecting a more mature R.L. Stine horror than the Goosebumps series, and what I got was a full-on gore filled horror movie. Leigh Janiak has a great visual eye and directs the story she co-wrote with Phil Graziadei with some Wes Craven flair.
The 90’s teen in me loves the soundtrack, loves all the 90’s references, and really enjoyed the 90’s slasher vibe that Fear Street Part One: 1994 gives. While it has some “Scream” vibes, it stands on its own with its supernatural elements.
The first movie opens by giving us a glimpse into the background that bridges the trilogy together in the stabby capitol of the world, Shadyside, and what an entry Part one is. Netflix’s risk to release all three movies over the next three weeks looked bold on paper, but based on this first entry this might, indeed, be the movie event of the summer.
Using Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) to tell the history of Shadyside, and quickly recounting the previous murder sprees that had plagued the town tracking back to a witch in the late 1600s, is storytelling done right. The cynical mindset about the witch in the beginning of the movie quickly changes as Josh’s investigative AOL chatroom team assembles the evidence to prove its authenticity.
I struggled to relate to the lead actress, Kiana Madeira, in the first act. As the story progresses I found myself rooting for her, and the main group, as they try to survive the night’s onslaught. Kiana Madeira has a great teenage rage face, but the big standout for me is Julia Rehwald. I found her performance to be the most captivating and fun of the group. Fred Hechinger’s character, Simon, starts out as an annoying sidekick but quickly grew into an odd sort of comedic role that I enjoyed.
I am not a huge horror fan, which might make you wonder, why did you review this movie then? Well, I am always open to expanding my horizons and Fear Street Part One: 1994 is one of the good ones. Maybe it is because it reminds of me Wes Craven’s 90’s slasher films, or maybe because I was a teen in the 90’s, but certain aspects of this movie spoke to me.
I am intrigued by the decision to start with 1994 and work backwards through time, but thanks to a brief glimpse into Fear Street Part Two: 1978 I am more excited to watch the craziness that will surely ensue.