Fear Street Part One: 1994 is the first installment in the Fear Street Trilogy of horror movies that will be airing on Netflix. It is based on the book series of the same name by R. L. Stine.
This slasher movie opens at a mall in Shadyside, Ohio, as a bookstore employee (Maya Hawkes in a fun cameo) is closing up for the evening. After making plans with her boyfriend, she finds herself terrorized by a masked killer, first in her store, then throughout the mall where she finds other dead people.
When the media later report on the murders, its becomes obvious this is just another day in Shadyside, which is dubbed the “murder capital of the U.S.” I mean, I would think that alone would get me to leave town.
Shadyside’s rival is Sunnyvale, a neighboring town that is considered one of the richest and safest cities in the country.
Following the mall murders, we meet Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her ex-girlfriend Samantha (Olivia Scott Welch). Sam recently moved with her family to Sunnyvale from Shadyside where Deena and her younger brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) still live. This creates an intense rivalry, which boils over and ends up causing a car accident.
Sam, in crawling out of her car, ends up dripping blood over the disturbed grave of the town’s legendary witch Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel), who placed a curse on Shadyside before being executed for witchcraft in 1666.
As you can imagine, this does not bode well for Sam or any of the other kids involved in the accident.
Deena, Josh, and her friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger) decide to help save Sam from the witch and all of her killers she’s brought back to life. You know…the ones that have given Shadyside its murder capital moniker.
For the most part, I enjoyed Fear Street Part One: 1994. There are some inventive kills (I’m looking at you bread slicer), and the film races along with very little downtime between those kills. I also applaud director Leigh Janiak’s choice to go with more gore, instead of toning it down to match the books. You can’t have a decent slasher film without the gore.
The characters are also strong, and in the short time we have with them, we come to care for them. Even Kate and Simon, who are an upgraded equivalent of slasher movie stoner kids.
My biggest issue is that while the film has plenty of 90’s nostalgia, they weren’t that concerned with making sure it all fit 1994 or earlier. For instance, as someone who worked in the music industry in the 90s, I noticed right away some of the music choices like Prodigy’s “Firestarter” (1995) and White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human” (1996) were released after 1994.
Minor issues, but noticeable nonetheless.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 has some legitimately surprising twists, and overall is a good slasher film. It also nicely sets up the other two films: 1978 (about a summer camp massacre), and 1666 (about the witch), which will air on subsequent Fridays (July 9 and 16). I look forward to seeing the whole story play out.
I’m giving Fear Street Part One: 1994 a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s streaming on Netflix as of July 2, 2021.
FEAR STREET PART ONE: 1994 (2021)
Director: Leigh Janiak
Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Maya Hawke, Elizabeth Scopel
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