Netflix’s recently completed Fear Street trilogy was an interesting idea. Instead of spreading the three movies out over a few years, the three parts were released within one month. It was a novel concept. As the past few years have shown, audiences are willing to sit at home and binge the shows that capture their imagination. Combine binge worthy television, sprinkle in a dash of mini series, and drown it all in one six hour movie broken into three parts and a summer horror moment is born.
The trilogy has been been received positively – and for good reason. Fear Street has been a fun trio of movies that serve many purposes. For some, there will be a sense of nostalgia. Horror fans will enjoy the blood and gore. For those who never had an interest in the genre, it will be a great entry point. It is the rare movie that will appeal to many different audiences.
This does not mean Fear Street is not without its issues. Even though horror franchises may remain popular after a ridiculous amount of installments, they are not immune to a decline in quality. On the contrary, this drop tends to happen quickly. (Saw is probably the best example. After a captivating first movie, the very first sequel is the dirt worst.) Still, they go on long past their shelf life.
The series gets off to a fun start with 1994. As expected from a horror movie set in a different decade, the story goes out of its way to let the audience know what era they are in. Music ranges from the most well known song from Sophie B. Hawkins to more obscure music from the impressive catalogue of The Pixies. There is no real cohesion except “90s!” but it brings cool atmosphere to the movie. There are also some surprisingly gruesome deaths and a nice twist leading into 1978.
Shockingly, the next part of Fear Street may be the best in the entire trilogy. The movie sets up the standard summer camp slasher story that people could not get enough of in the 1980s. The second part adds some neat world building that does not become convoluted (a problem in horror franchises) and has stronger characters than its predecessor. This one also ends with a cool twist that leads into the finale.
The problems start to arise in 1666. Since so many characters have been introduced in the previous two movies, it does become a little more difficult to keep up with things. This is an expected part of any franchise, however. It is in the third part that the story of Fear Street begins to lose its way. The previous two films had well developed forbidden love stories. They were not the most original set ups, but they provided some of the most engaging parts of the first two movies.. Part Three revisits a previous relationship, but in the context of Salem-like witch trials. The whole thing seems to be a ill advised attempt to equate witch hunts to certain types of people.
There is a lot of truth in the message, but it does not come across as well in Fear Street. It is simply a case of not reading the room properly. The slashers of the 80s were mindless horror movies that catered to people’s most visceral needs. In other words, blood, breasts, and beasts. Years after the fact, some have tried to claim the movies were a symbol of rebellion against antiquated ideas or were empowering to women. This is all justification for what the films truly were. Violent movies that cast women as objects.
The final installment seems to be attempting to do the same thing. After two straightforward horror movies that have focused on scares, blood, and some very heavy petting (times have changed, but not that much), the writers of the film decided to give the film more of a conscious. It does not ruin the movie or the trilogy, but it is an odd decision that stands out. Things also start to drag and way too much lore is explained in the second half of 1666. There is a very effective twist, but Fear Street falls into the same trap every horror franchise eventually does: not knowing when to quit.
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