Friday, July 2, 2021

Fear Street - Part One: 1994 - Review

 Everyone knows R.L. Stine for “Goosebumps”, and rightfully so. The series has been around since the early 90s, with off and on stints since, and just about everyone has read at least one in their time. But little do some know that the famed author penned novels for the young adult bracket, a fare more gory and mature series titled “Fear Street”, and someone, somewhere, finally realized just how brilliant an adaptation of said series could be.

In 1994, a group of teenagers find out that the terrifying events that have occurred in their cursed town of Shadyside, Ohio, may be connected to each other, and that they may be the next targets. As the mystery surrounding the unfortunate circumstances of their lives begins to unfold, the group will have to try everything to prevent their impending doom at the hands of numerous relentless killing machines. 

Right from the start, the tone is set with a grisly massacre at a mall, with the fingerprints of various 90s horror all over it, particularly the first Scream. Director Leigh Janiak establishes very quickly that these films aren’t shying away from the bloodletting seen in the pages of the novels. From there, the actual players are introduced, the stakes and world established, and we’re off and running for a fun, and frightening, ride.

Seeing how this is the first part in a trilogy, the film is responsible for setting up the lore and mythology of why exactly this town is cursed. Surprisingly, Part 1 does a fairly good job at making the mystery intriguing, and offers a twist to the masked slasher by tossing in some supernatural elements that assuringly connect it to the other two films to come. The film also doesn’t allow anyone to feel safe, anyone and everyone is one wrong step away from a swift and merciless death, and it makes the film just that much more effective by doing so.

There is a lot of leaning into the 90s aesthetic by Janiak, even too much at points. The look and feel of the film is top notch, but the idea to essentially turn the soundtrack into a who’s who of 90s music straight out of a compilation CD commercial is questionable at best and distracting at its worst. However, the positives far outweigh even the worst sins, and the thrills and chills it brings along the way more than make this a worthy horror film.

Fear Street - Part One: 1994 brings an infectious and energetic energy to what essentially boils down to a love letter to slasher films with a 90s edge. It certainly doesn’t provide much in the way of surprises, no formulas being broken here, but as the first part in a trilogy, it does its job very well. For now, Part One is a success, and here’s hoping the next two trips to Fear Street prove just as fun as the first. 

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