Fear Street Trilogy (2021) reviewed

As per my previous posts, this month has been lockdown in Sydney. I haven’t finished my latest read yet, but I’ve gone through a couple of series: The Mechanism, Atypical (season 4), and Dash and Lilly. My latest watch has been the Fear Street Trilogy. This is a recent Netflix addition, the first being released on 2 July, followed by the latter two. As a teenager, I was introduced to R.L. Stine and Fear Street. He has been described as the master of young adult thrillers. The trio of films were supposed to be released in cinemas last year but became another COVID scalp. Being released exclusively on Netflix, all three have been critically acclaimed.

the author

Fear Street Part One: 1994

Director Leigh Janiak gets the ball rolling with this teen slasher flick in a high school setting. Siblings Deena and Josh try to navigate school. They live in Shadyside, the opposite of neighbouring Sunnyvale. The latter is one of the wealthiest stops in the country. There is a love angle, with Deena being the ex of Samantha. Meanwhile, Josh has a secret crush on Kate, one of the popular cheerleaders. Otherwise, he taps away at his bulky desktop. Earlier, a lone knifeman spanks one of their peers and goes on a murder spree in Shadyside Mall. When a prank by the Shadysiders goes too far, even stranger things would take over.

Suddenly, the whole town is against them. Deena, Josh, Samantha, Kate, and Simon try to fight their way against the slalom of undead. They realise that their pursuers are not after them, but Sam. Her blood dripped on the witch Sara Frier’s hand. Their weapons are insufficient as their opponents cannot die. The only solution is a tough one: they must ‘kill’ Sam to disconnect her from the matadors. The group utilises the pills that Simon and Kate sell. They will lose friends along the way, but Josh’s history lessons on past Shadyside slayings will prove invaluable. Simon even labels him as ‘Rain Man.’

The teens figure out that there was a lone survivor from past attacks: C. Berman. Deena attempts to contact the revenant, to no avail. When Sam falls asleep, they revive her using EpiPen’s and CPR. The police pin the blame on the pill bearers. They have been known to hawk their treats. Since they are six feet under, they cannot bury the hatchet. Deena and Sam become open about their relationship. The former receives a call from C. Berman but not before being hit by her lover. Veteran actor Gillian Jacobs portrays Berman.

Rating: 4.3/5

Fear Street Part Two: 1978

The second instalment takes place in a summer camp. C. Berman is the narrator, saying that her sister -also in the camp – died a week after her story started. Her foes label the protagonist, Ziggy, a witch. Actor Sadie Sink (Stranger Things) portrayed the latter. Her character is pictured as a rebel, both against her family and her oppressors. She’s a toughie. One of the counsellors, Nick Goode, has taken a shine to her. He helps her with her revenge. Meanwhile, Cindy – Ziggy’s older sister – finds Tommy, her boyfriend, turned into a killing machine. She had tried to stop the nurse from slaying her mate. Apparently, the latter knew something was up and was merely trying to avert chaos. Tommy terminates Cindy’s friends and sets his sights on the camp, including his sister. Cindy desperately tries to save the kids.

In their attempt to make things right and to end the curse, Ziggy spills blood on Sara Fier’s hand, which resurrects the undead. With more comrades turned into cadavers, Ziggy, and Cindy retreat to the tree where Fier met her Maker. Upon digging a rock, they realise that this wasn’t the site. The slayers arrive, intent on Ziggy. Both are murdered, until Nick resurrects Ziggy via CPR. The viewers will realise that C. Berman is Ziggy; real name: Christine. They join forces to end the curse once and for all, as the group had found Fier’s body. They inform her that the camp has turned into Shadyside Mall. Josh and Deena dig the hand out of the same tree. They return it to the original burial spot when Deena has a sudden vision as Sara Fier in 1666.

The film was released on 9 July 2021. Most critics heaped praise on the picture. Some have even adjudged it as ‘strongest film in the trilogy.’ Others have asserted that the flick has a lot going on and tries to be many things but doesn’t stand out in any of them. One pundit gave it two out of four stars, citing the lacklustre delineation of the camp. Personally, I say that the actors were well-casted for this period piece. The plot was a real nod to seventies suspense and gore.

Rating: 4.4/5

Fear Street Part Three: 1666

Compared to the first two, which were mostly slasher fare, the third instalment is a supernatural frights movie. Part Three was released on Netflix last Friday, 16 July. This edition picks up where its predecessor dropped off. In 1666, Deena is transformed as Sara Fier. Janiak does a commendable job with the casting. Though audiences are teleported to the seventeenth century, the cast is mostly familiar faces. For instance, her brother Henry is the self-same Josh. A couple of villagers are Simon and Kate from Part One. On the flipside, this could be a budgeting thing, as they wouldn’t need to ferry in newcomers. Either way, the conceit works.

Back to 1666. Sara Fier is involved in a tryst with Hannah Miller. The latter is played by the same actor as Samantha Fraser. The two are caught up and the villagers want their heads, bringing fire and pitchforks with them. Following their rendezvous, things mysteriously turn sour in the town. The pig becomes a cannibal, the reverend begins acting up. This gives the villagers even more reason to blame the pair. They are tried by pitchfork and sentenced in a kangaroo court even with zero tangible evidence against the lovers.

Through all this, Solomon Goode remains Sara’s only ally. They were arranged to be wed before the storm hit. When the townsfolk come searching for Sara, Solomon hides her. While lying low in his abode, Sara/Deena discovers that Solomon has embraced the dark side. It was he who poisoned the water, who saw her with Hannah, who killed the kids. Sara tries to escape from him but loses a hand in the process. Sara admits to everything to save Hannah. Before her death, she vows vengeance against Solomon.

The latter third is dedicated to 1994: Part 2

This time, the group knows the real baddie full well: Sheriff Nick Goode. At the start, Sam is still possessed. They find an ally in Martin, who owes Josh a favour. They concur to lure Goode, where the Shadyside matadors will silence him. They manage to trap the killers and lure Martin to the nexus where Ziggy douses him in Deena’s blood. Nick escapes. Deena and Sam follow him. When the latter attacks Deena, she knocks her out. Nick overpowers Deena, almost killing her. However, the latter exposes him to some beating organs, and this gives him a vision of every one of his killer’s victims. Deena stabs him, making the matadors disappear and eliminating the curse for good. The Goodes are then exposed. Deena and Sam reconcile at Sara’s grave.

Filming took over three months in Georgia. Now, this is the highest rated of the three. A slew of observers has offered that Part Three was a fitting end to the trilogy. I liked how the players acquired southern accents for this outing. I was also a fan of the 1994 revisit, adding some spice. All three instalments are around the two-hour mark, enough to keep you riveted. Altogether, a well-crafted tripod that exceeds expectations.   

Rating: 4.6/5

Kiana Madeira (Deena)
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