Fear Street (2021)

Netflix’s latest addition to the horror genre comes in a trilogy with humour, gore, scares and just a little bit of time travel… 3.5/5

Do you miss the scary movies before the 2010’s? Miss slashers? Miss crazed psychopaths in the woods? Miss witch hunts? Do you hate how most horror flicks are now low budget, dark and depressing stories? If you answered yes to at least one of those questions then I’d give Fear Street a go. It is Netflix’s answer to the huge gap in the current horror market and is a refreshing revamp of the genre. The best bit? You don’t have to wait over three years for all of the films to come out. (One spoiler highlighted prior to reveal)

The plot: This trilogy takes place during three different periods, 90’s America, 70’s America and 1600’s America – in that order. In short, it consists of three separate mini horror movies all contained within one larger story arc encompassing all three films. (Hooked yet?) All the films take place in the back country town of Shadyside where a group of high school friends find themselves unwillingly entangled with the curse of a long dead witch, Sarah Fier, who was executed in 1666 by the fearsome townsfolk. Sarah Fier’s curse upon the town is that every couple of decades she will pick a Shadyside resident and take over their mind turning them into a homicidal maniac. The films go backwards chronologically, with each film delving deeper into the mystery, corruption and curse of Shadyside – you will see characters re-appear and it is genuinely gripping in how it unravels the plot which you will not fully understand until the last 20 minutes of the third film.

Variety: The best thing about this trilogy is the variety the viewer gets with every film. Each instalment follows a different well known horror movie classic. The first film, Part One, brings back the slasher genre to our screens, where a group of high school friends are continually chased by an assailant dressed in a black gown with a white mask – think Scream. The second film is a clear love letter to all the Friday the 13th films that have graced (and tarnished) our screens since the 80’s. In Part Two we see a group of young adults and children have their summer camp dreams ruined when a man with an axe gets a taste for their blood and goes on a Jason inspired killing spree. Finally, we have Part Three, which is the most unique of the trilogy – taking us to Shadyside when it was a colonial outpost in 1666 during the peak of the witch hunts in North East America. Part Three blends the usual witchcraft vodoo magic with suspicious townsfolk – chaos ensues.

A young cast limited at times: The cast for Part One is completely different to Part Two, but in Part Three the original cast from Part One return and play their 1666 alter egos. This raised a number of issues for me and did contribute to Part Three being disappointingly the least enjoyable of the trilogy. Firstly, the cast really struggled with English / Irish / Scottish / Welsh accents – with their American accents often coming through. This might not be visible to an American audience, but as a Brit myself I found Kiana Madeira’s accent switching between Irish, Welsh and Scottish more than Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Secondly, at times the acting could seem forced for the 1666 period, I can’t really blame the cast for this though – they signed up for a teen horror movie and were then asked to act as a religious, superstitious and starving townsfolk of 400 years previous.

Standouts: Despite her accent in the third film, Kiana Madeira did a fantastic job as the main protagonist, she was relatable and carried the LGBTQ themes of the movie perfectly. McCabe Slye also deserves a mention, his acting of Mad Tom in Part Three saved that instalment for me. SPOILER COMING!! I cannot review this film without acknowledging the most brutal death of the entire trilogy when Julia Rehwald’s character has their skull and brain sliced open by a bread cutter in full view of the camera. It is horrifying, disgusting but most importantly acted incredibly – her screams and cries for help made my hairs stand on end and I was left disturbed and thinking about that moment for a while after the film. Credit to Julia Rehwald, she deserves it for having a lasting effect like that. SPOILER OVER!!

More slasher than scary: If you’re a horror movie veteran who has sat through Blair Witch, Hereditary and Us without flinching you are unlikely to find this trilogy scary. I had a few “divert my eyes from the screen moments” but they were rare – I could have done with more. It doesn’t necessarily take anything away from the films, they self identify as slashers and gore fests which usually sacrifice scares for thrills. I felt I was watching a story unfold, rather than trying to survive the movie, which was nice in a way – but I don’t watch horrors for nice.

It deserves to be watched: Despite the lack of scares, questionable accents and disappointing Part Three, the films are good. Very good in fact when you remember they are part of the notoriously slated horror genre. These movies will not leave you amazed or gobsmacked but you will be hit with nostalgia in every instalment and they are refreshing in that they do not try too hard or have a confusing convoluted ending. Modern themes and issues are laced throughout the trilogy but they are not overemphasised or beaten to death (good phrase for horror films). I enjoyed watching them and hope we see more like this from Netflix.

To watch or not to watch: Watch.

Can I stream it: Yes – Netflix.

Child friendly: No – severe gore and profanity.

Can I watch this with my parents: Yes – very minimal nudity for a horror film.

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