So, a mere three weeks after the first part dropped on Netflix, we come to the third and final part of the Fear Street trilogy; the gripping horror experiment based on the works of R.L. Stine. However, where the first installment jabbed a razor sharp homage into the ribs of 90’s slasher pics and the second did the same for the 80’s, this climactic edition takes us all the way back to the puritan times of 1666 to find out how exactly all this serial killer hullabaloo got started in a setting that’s closer to Robert Eggers’ The Witch or Gareth Evans’ Apostle than anything featuring Jason or Ghostface
So can this innovative slasher saga manage to score a hideous hat trick and maintain it’s momentum despite a change of setting that means the film can’t fall back on it’s usual recipe of bloody gore, relatable teen hijinks and virtually endless amounts of killer tunes from the time period?
When last we left the dogged survivors of Shadyside they had listened to the tragic tale of Ziggy who not only had barely survived the massacre at Camp Nightwing back in ’78 but was the only person alive who had gotten closest to solving the riddle of Sarah Fiers, the witch executed three hundred years prior who’s curse has plagued the town with an endless spree of killings caused by possessed townsfolk. Back in 1994, bloodied heroine Deena and her brother try to cure her girlfriend, Sam, from being Fier’s latest maniac by returning the skeletal hand of the long dead witch with the rest of her hidden body only to have a shocking vision that makes her experience what the young girl went through during her last days.
It’s 1666 and young Sarah Fiers is somewhat of an anomaly among the God fearing people of the settlement known as Union who see her as strange and odd. Not helping her case in the notoriously pious community is that she’s trying to hide her burgeoning relationship with pastor’s daughter, Hannah Miller, but after a night where they can no longer keep their passions in check, a series of supernatural events rapidly spiral out of control that will damn generations for centuries to come. But as we wind our way through the final moments of a young girl who supposedly sold her soul in order to claim her revenge, we find that what we’ve been led to believe about the town legend is actually very different to what actually happened.
Meanwhile, back in 1994, Deena takes the revelations she’s learnt and tries to use them to stop the seemingly endless flow of undead serial killers that’s popped up to end things once and for all but can she possibly end the curse of Shadyside once and for all?
So director Leigh Janiak manages to go three for three on her fun horror odyssey that despite it’s young adult novel origins manages to inject some emotional weight in this highly entertaining trilogy capper that manages to both keep things fresh and familiar by exploring the new territory of 1666 before returning back to 1994 to wrap things up for the final act.
Dropping a lot of the aspects that kept the previous two movies chugging along (a rapid-fire jukebox of the soundtrack of 1666 isn’t exactly gonna produce some bangers), it’s a ballsy choice to drop the colourful pallets in favour of flickering firefight and pitch black nights but one thing the movie goes all out on is the central LGBTQ themes from the first movie. Casting a range of actors from the first two movies as essentially their own ancestors complete with Irish accents (think Lea Thompson in Back To The Future III), Janiak reforges the romance between actors Kiana Maderia and Olivia Scott Welch by having them portray completely different people in a strikingly similar situation and then let’s the very real fear of being branded a witch by superstitious neighbours be all the metaphor she needs. It’s a clever idea and it mostly pays off, but as the film still has to wrap up events three hundred years in the future, the new characters aren’t given as much time to breathe as, say, the group at Camp Nightwing as so many returning faces feel more like extended cameos.
The best way to describe the first chunk of the movie is like Miramax tried to make The Witch in the late nineties under their Dimension horror label, but thankfully those watching who may feel that the slasher template has been abandoned too much should still be kept rapt by the twists and turns in the story that rewrites all we’ve been told so far – but even then, a return to the “present day” (aka. 1994 Part 2) gives the final act a boost despite being slightly derivative of what’s come before as the evil force once again deploys multiple undead serial killers from it’s satanic rolodex to kill a target who boasts a certain kind of blood.
With that being said, with the mixing of bubbly childish energy with mature relationship themes by way of gruesome and gratifying graphic murders, the Fear Street Trilogy has to be considered a hugely successful experiment in both execution (oh, plenty of those) and release and it’s going to be interesting to see who adopts this unique strategy next and how the utilise it. After all, it’s not everyday you get an entire horror trilogy, fully formed and beamed directly to your eyeballs on day of release over a three week period; and while I wouldn’t exactly call it an achievement on the scale of Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings, Fear Street made the most of it’s ballsy premise while not wimping out on the red stuff.
So as we leave Fear Street maybe for the last time (although admittedly the door’s been left wide open for repeat business in true slasher fashion) and we bid farewell to it’s parade of personalised psychos, it has to be said that not only was third time the charm, but the first and second time was pretty cool too…