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Fear Street Part 1: 1994

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Fear Street Part 1: 1994

Synopsis:
A circle of teenage friends accidentally encounter the ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued their town for over 300 years. Welcome to Shadyside.

A group of teenagers accidentally unleash an ancient evil in Fear Street Part 1: 1994. The town of Shadyside has a long history of serial killers, leading to it being nicknamed “Killer Captial USA,” unlike the neighbouring town of Sunnyvale, which has gone three decades without violent crime. Tragedy strikes the town again following a massacre by a skull masked killer at the Shadyside Mall and Deena (Kiana Madeira) doesn’t appreciate the claims by her friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger) that a local urban legend about vengeful witch Sarah Fier is responsible. Travelling with the football team into Sunnyvale, Deena has an awkward reunion with her ex Samantha (Olivia Scott Welch) and a prank gone wrong by Samantha’s jock boyfriend Peter (Jeremy Ford), which results in a car crash. Afterwards, Deena and her friends find themselves stalked by the supposedly dead killers of Shadyside, causing them to believe that they have become targets of Sarah Fier’s vengeful spirit.

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is the first in a trilogy of films directed by Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon), based on the series of young adult novels by R.L. Stine. Unlike R.L. Stine’s more well-known series of Goosebumps, the Fear Street books featured more mature content, which is echoed in the film adaptation, which is very much copying the tone of a 1990s teen slasher film, with a bit of a supernatural twist. This tone is established in the opening scene, which is more than a little inspired by the opening of Scream, complete with the stunt-casting of Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke as a mall bookstore employee stalked by a knife-wielding killer, wearing a hooded skeleton costume. The main plot of Fear Street Part 1: 1994 proceeds to the mythology of the cursed town of Shadyside, thanks in no small part to the obsession by protagonist Deena’s younger brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.). With the curse seemingly having taken hold on Deena and her friends, particularly Samantha, they all have to find a way to break it, before they become just another stat in Shadyville’s history.

I’m actually going to begin with what is probably my biggest criticism of Fear Street Part 1: 1994, which is the film’s need to really emphasize its 1990s setting with a soundtrack that includes the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, and Bush, all within the first 15 minutes. The barrage of 1990s songs in the film does get annoying in the film, especially since the film features many anachronistic selections released after 1994.  I also have to make note of the film’s weird tone of coming across like it’s specifically aimed at a teenage audience, yet not holding back on the language, violence, and gore, even though reportedly the original novels by R.L. Stine are not that different.

It’s around the halfway point, where Fear Street Part 1: 1994 begins to pick up steam, mostly because it’s when the film begins to ramp up the horror and becomes less concerned with being a 1990s period piece. Despite the prior knowledge that Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is the first film of a trilogy, I’m happy to say does stand alone as a relatively complete story, despite the fact that there is a final cliffhanger to lead into Fear Street Part 2: 1978.

TO BE CONTINUED

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is available to stream on Netflix on July 2, 2021, with Part 2: 1978 following on July 9, concluding with Part 3: 1666 on July 16

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Trailer for Fear Street Part 1: 1994

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How to Watch Fear Street Part 1: 1994

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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