Movie Review: Fear Street Part 1: 1994

I grew up devouring R.L. Stine’s Fear Street novels, so naturally I had to watch Fear Street Part 1: 1994 the moment I found it on Netflix.

What’s unique about this movie is that it’s the first in a trilogy and all parts were released one week after the other. It is a daring move and one that can only work on a streaming platform. You wouldn’t find an audience willing to go to the movies three weeks in a row to devour three slasher movies, but you are more than likely to find a willing audience when releasing movies on Netflix in this format.

The strength of the movie lies in the fact that it’s a trilogy. Standing on its own, Fear Street Part 1: 1994 would be just another slasher movie in a long line of similar movies, about a teenager who suddenly goes berserk and starts randomly killing people for the sake of it. At least, that is how the movie starts out, with the killer in question donning a skeleton costume in a cloaked hommage to Scream, one of the most famous slasher movies of all times.

But Scream isn’t only the movie owed hommage to. A number of killers pass the revue in the history of Shadyside, some of them reminiscent of famous movie killers: think Jason, Freddy, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and so on.

What sets apart the movie from others in its genre, is its setting. The trilogy aspect allows the movie to do far more world-building than you would otherwise expect from a slasher movie. The setting of these eerie occurences is Shadyside, a town with a history filled with murder and mayhem, that sits right next to the pristine, crime-free town of Sunnyvale. The town’s history is an important aspect of the story, and on top of the good, old-fashioned slashing and hacking, we also get a supernatural background story that gives the movie an intriguing spin.

The actor’s performances are pretty good, in partiucilar of the title character Deena, played by Kiana Madeira. Where the movie is lacking a bit, is in the character development department. We get a cast of five main characters running about: Deena, her ex Sam, her two best friends and her brother. While we do get to explore Deena’s personality a little, we don’t know much about her friends or brother, except that the latter has an unhealthy obsession with Shadyside’s history which, lo and behold, may save everyone’s lives at the end of the day.

Or well, perhaps not everyone’s. This is a slasher movie after all. There’s guts, gore, and people die. Sometimes multiple times.

A solid first movie in a promising series, and a must-see for fans of the original Fear Street book series by horror master R.L. Stine.

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