Retro-styled horror movies are all the craze these days. That’s probably the main reason why I enjoyed watching Fear Street Part 1: 1994, which was recently released on Netflix.
Director Leigh Janiak, along with writers Kyle Killen and Phil Graziadel have adapted this feature film, which is based upon the book series by author R.L. Stine. Taking place in small-town America, Shadyside has earned the nickname of “Killer Capital, USA.” A dark and cursed history involving a series of brutal murders have plagued the area for more than 300 years and a group of teenagers may have finally linked them all.
The recent killing spree brings a supernatural storyline with paranormal plot devices, and it all takes place in 1994, so there’s a lot of nostalgia. A whole lot of nostalgia.
Of course, those were the most intriguing elements of the film for me, but as this is based on a teenage fiction series (Ghosts of Fear Street), other topics rise in importance for our main characters. There’s the high school rivalry between the Sunnyvale Devils and the Shadyside Witches — such great team names — and the love interests that intersect the two, along with claims of a lesbian chaos theory.
There’s also a very young character who’s practically infatuated with serial killers, mapping out his very own string theories connecting them all in his bedroom while discussing the finer details within an AOL chat room (I actually remember using those back in the day!).
And finally, there’s a witch somehow involved with this hotbed of terror.
Somehow, dead people are trying to kill these teens and possibly some sort of revenge from beyond the grave is taking place here. Now you’ve really got my attention!
“It’s not your future, if you’re pretending to be someone else…”
As a huge fan of Scream back in the day, I felt like the beats of 1994 followed that movie’s structure pretty closely — and that’s not a bad thing. While the storyline is different, there’s even a newly introduced masked killer! As a side note, prepare yourselves to see Skull Face everywhere this Halloween!
There weren’t very many jump scares involved, but I was entertained throughout. Part 1 lays a lot of groundwork for the upcoming sequels, including a killer kid, the Camp Nightwing massacre and the Humpty Dumpty Killer, which Netflix will release in subsequent weeks. After watching this film, I feel like Janiak might just be a fan of Wes Craven (although I didn’t really notice it in the episode of Panic that she directed).
As the next two films travel back in time even further (both directed by Janiak), I’m really looking forward to learning about Sarah Fier’s backstory, which didn’t get much attention in this entry. I’m wondering how they can all get neatly wrapped up without some form of time travel involved. I’m also wondering what kind of horror tropes will be somehow tweaked to fit the time period. I won’t have long to wait.
And like the preview teaser states for the next chapter: “Times change… evil doesn’t.”