Horror has a new a teen favorite in Fear Street Part 1: 1994, the first movie in Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy. The three part film series the streamer has been touting as the event of the season lives up to the hype, kicking off a horrifying story of bloody vengeance with style and a ’90s soundtrack that you’ll be bumping all summer.
We start in a mall bookstore, an endangered species in the 2020s, where Maya Hawke’s Heather channels the essence of Scream while surrounded by R.L. Stine books. The neon that lights the Stony Hill Mall is reminiscent of Stranger Things‘ Starcourt, giving the audience another nod to a horror classic.
Then the murder spree commences, and we are treated to five minutes of absolute, campy horror deliciousness. Hawke runs and screams but still can’t seem to get away. Her harsh breathing as she hides is a tell-tale sign of her location. There’s a bait-and-switch, brief melee, a stabby stab, a stumbling chase until death literally drags her back into its clutches, and slow-mo before help arrives too late as doom settles with a dramatic flourish over the scene.
The Fear Street Part 1 opening, including its credits which give several hints of what to expect from the trilogy, shows viewers exactly what it plans to give over its 110 minute runtime.
Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a must-watch teen horror movie
It intends to pay homage to the legendary films of its genre that have been hallmarks of pop culture, shaping the genre itself and public conversation about horror. As well as leave its own stamp by leaning into what makes teen shows and movies so fantastic: style, irreverence, playfulness, chaos, crudeness, drama and music.
It’s the perfect introduction to Shadyside, a town without pep but plenty of murder. Legend has it that Sarah Fier, a witch whose story is deeply embedded in Shadyside’s history, is responsible for the centuries of killings in the town. However, death hangs over them so much that even the slaughter of Heather and the other victims of the Stony Hill killer doesn’t stop the teens from making jokes about the witch’s involvement.
Not to mention there are more pressing matters like Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Sam’s (Olivia Scott Welch) break-up. Yes, this film incorporates a romance. It’s about teens, of course, there’s romantic drama! The rebellious band nerd and the cheerleader.
Add in angst about a move to their rival town Sunnyvale, the dissolution of the relationship that’s prompted by Deena’s awareness of Sam’s inability to be public about their love for one another, jealousy over a douchey jock getting handsy with Sam, and epic levels of pining and you have the emotionally compelling core of The Fear Street trilogy.
These girls are the moment and the wave — expect to see them all over your timeline. Especially since it’s Sam that inadvertently brings Sarah Fier’s wrath down upon her and by extension Deena, her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), and her friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger).
From there, Fear Street Part 1 turns into a survive-the-night kind of movie with town’s lore being revealed as the group tangos with a few undead killers of legend. The streets run red with blood in Shadyside as they desperately work together to stop the witch from killing them all. But a twist in the plot leads to some unsavory decision making that’ll have viewers on the edge of their seats.
Paired with thrilling action sequences, humorous line-delivery, some eye-roll worthy choices like the quiet nerd and the smart, popular girl’s connection with no build, and a few unique killings, the first Fear Street movie is gory, tropey fun.
It’s also got enough mystery to it that the set-up for Part 2 of the trilogy draws you in. Just when you think these kids will have a moment to settle, the rug is pulled out from under them and us, as we’re thrust back into the thick of things.
Are you ready for Fear Street Part 2: 1978 ? Friday, July 9 is when the gates of Camp Nightwing open on Netflix.
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